Bedroom Farce, a comedy written by Alan Ayckbourn, is set in the 1970s with a cast consisting of four couples of varying ages. Ayckbourn’s clever uses of time and space makes this a very intricate and sophisticated comedy, whilst portraying the deterioration and rebuilding of relationships between the younger and older generations.
The clever set consists of three beds depicting three separate bedrooms with the middle bedroom on a raised plinth. This was an effective use of space where each vignette was dressed appropriately for the age of the occupants. The lighting is technically impressive and very effective, allowing each bedroom to be lit independently. Any cast members still on stage in the other bedrooms continued to stay in character, pilchards or sardines anyone?
The Director, John Sivewright, stepped in at the last minute to also take on the part of Malcolm, the recently married man with very little in the way of do it yourself skills. John gives an utterly believable performance in this part right down to his leg cramps! His other half, Kate, played by Kristy Dixon, is obviously in the first flush of married bliss, or is she?
Mike Andrews gives a stellar performance as Ernest complemented by the equally believable Delia, Jenny Sibley. They are both well past the first flush, solidly enjoying the essential joys and worries of life together with a leaky roof, bedtime snacks and crumbs.
Nick and Jan are somewhere in the middle of married life and you are left wondering if, maybe, they both settled for second best. Nick, played by Peter Gutteridge, is a selfish businessman who is very absorbed with his own pain, whilst bedridden with a back injury. Nick is made comfortable or not by his ever dutiful and tolerant wife, Jan, performed by Nikki Wilson, another late arrival. Whilst trapped on the bed, with her face obscured, she uses her visible fingers to express how she felt as she relayed her impropriety to Nick, pure magic.
Last, but by no means least, is the beautiful but fragile couple, Trevor (Steve Hawker) and Susannah, mesmerizingly embodied by Dawn Hollington. It was easy to empathise with the fragile and highly strung Susannah as you watched her display a set of self-confirming mantras when she felt unloved and needed to boost her self-esteem. Susannah’s facial expressions cried out for recognition and this was an exceptional performance by Dawn.
Bedroom Farce is a multi-faceted, hilarious concoction of relationships where marriage is shown as an institution sustained more by ingrained habit than mutual excitement. A very funny and enjoyable performance admirably displayed by all the cast of Ferndown Drama, now showing at the Barrington Theatre, Ferndown until Saturday 25 January.