Bedroom Farce by Thurrock Courts Players
THERE tends to be an assumption that by taking on an Alan Ayckbourn play you will be greatly aided by a fizzing script. Infact,, on this occasion it is quite the opposite as, in this reviewers opinion, Bedroom Farce, is quite a stodgy script.
So it is to the Thurrock Courts Players credit that they managed to make an entertaining two hours of this bedroom farce.
The play takes place in three bedrooms during one night and the following morning. The cast consists of four married couples. At the beginning of the play, the oldest couple, Delia and Ernest, are getting ready to go out for a meal to celebrate their wedding anniversary; Malcolm and Kate, the youngest, are about to host a housewarming party, to which the other two couples, Jan and Nick and Susannah and Trevor (the only ones whose bedroom is not seen), have been invited.
At the last minute Nick has hurt his back and is unable to go. The complicating factor is that Jan used to be Trevor’s girlfriend, and after Susannah and Trevor have a blazing row, Susannah finds Trevor kissing Jan. As a result Susannah leaves the party and goes to visit Delia and Ernest, whose connection with the rest of the plot is that they are Trevor’s parents; she ends up sharing Delia’s bed, while Ernest is forced to sleep in the spare room. Meanwhile Trevor himself, feeling unable to go home, is also offered a bed in a spare room by Kate, but decides to go and “straighten things out” with Nick and Jan, leaving Kate waiting up for him. Eventually Trevor and Susannah seem to be reconciled, but at the end of the play the audience might doubt whether this state of affairs will last.
You always get the impression that being in Thurrock Courts Players seems to be quite good fun and so they come across as a relaxed and happy ensemble. They also have, as they say in football circles, a good mix of youth and experience.
One of our favourite performances of the night was by Eric Smith who played Ernest. Eric has great comic timing and whether it was extolling the virtues of pilchards or Tom Brown’s School Days did it all with a certain élan. He was ably assisted by Lisa Chapman, who was greatly assisted by what looked like Camilla Parker-Bowles hair! Lisa is such a key part of the TCP, such a reliable but effective performer.
We were going to write that Mike Jones’ first ten minutes on stage showcased what made him a great actor. But as he was asleep for the first ten minutes, that would just be immature. Seriously, Mike does frustration and bluster very well. He also managed to keep his pyjamas up. He was paired with Torie Grayling who is one of those members of a repertory group that doesn’t get the praise she deserves, but puts in sure performance after sure performance.
If a play has Luke Coldham in it then it is worth the admission price alone. He is a very talented young man who can even make a comedy act out of yawning. Luke loves the stage and the stage loves him.
This reviewer had not seen Stephanie Firth and Josh Handley before and they were delightful. Stephanie had a real light touch and was very confident on stage whilst Josh acted very well, especially with coats.
Finally, there was Louise Alsop who did a great turn that synthesised ditzy and neurotic very well.
To be honest, any show that has a Harry Nilsson album on the stage is alright with us but it great to see TCP perform so well and also good to see an audience enjoy them.