Cunning comedy with calculated farce

PUBLISHED: 10:49 28 February 2001 | UPDATED: 15:03 22 October 2010

Bedroom Farce @ Norwich Playhouse. By Christopher Smith.

Bedroom Farce @ Norwich Playhouse

By Christopher Smith

The Greeks had a word for it, but as Alan Ayckbourn's cunningly-calculated comedy threads its way from a deadpan start to a knockout finish, everyone comes to realise that just saying “Trevor” will be enough to open the floodgates again. And again. Even once more after that.

Directed by the author, the Stephen Joseph Company makes its impact with split-second timing, each pause saying as much as the words around it, and body language is always at the service of the text.

When it comes to the crunch, the difference between striped pyjamas and a satin shortie sleeping suit is more than a generation gap.

The title is a promise that is more than fulfilled.

Not just the one traditional bedroom, but three, each with a bed, and with four men and four women there is not a lot of chance of anyone getting much sleep – least of all if one couple fancies pilchards on toast and one of the younger men feels he must prove his prowess as flat-pack man.

Geoffrey Whitehead leads the way in comic pacing, Katy Secombe – or should we say Kate? – squeaks and sparks with indignation, and Diana Morrison, tall, slim and dark-haired, balances her part between hysteria and pre-Raphaelite attractiveness in a farce standing, as all good farces do, right at the crossroads between tragedy and comedy.

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