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Traditionally, we read a play together in December, and as Alan Ayckbourn is the most performed living playwright in the U.K., we decided to delve into Bedroom Farce. First produced at his theatre in Scarborough in 1975 and subsequently at the National’s Lyttleton Theatre, it has not dated too much, but would certainly need to be played in a 70’s setting. The absence of mobile phones would render a contemporary staging quite implausible.
The action takes place in three bedrooms. In the first, Delia and Ernest, dissatisfied with their wedding anniversary restaurant meal, prepare to celebrate with pilchards on toast in bed. The middle bedroom is going to be used for the coats at Malcolm’s and Kate’s housewarming party. Nick and Jan have been invited, but Nick will be remaining behind in the third bedroom: he has hurt his back. The evening is doomed to failure by the marital problems of Trevor (son of Delia and Ernest) and Susannah, who descend on each couple in turn, leaving chaos in their wake. The bedrooms are presented simultaneously and the action flows from one to another during a hectic night.
As so often happens, the play was brought vividly to life through being read aloud by a small but talented group, fortified with Joan’s mince pies and Anne’s coffee. Several of our members had been unimpressed by Bedroom Farce when reading it to themselves, and had wondered how it could have received such rave reviews, but we were rolling in the aisles before long as the hapless couples try to cope with their unwelcome visitors.
Next month we shall be reading the Booker shortlisted Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones, and meet on January 10th to discuss it.
Withiel Book Circle – reading list
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