Bedroom Farce

“You can tell about a person from the bedroom they sleep in,” says Delia, an old woman who is getting ready to go out with her husband Ernest on their anniversary night. They go every year to the same place and the only glimmer of change from their routine is eating sardine sandwiches in bed.

Although sounding ridiculous, so it is the way that The Bedroom Farce confronts the silent killer of many a happy couple: routine. Written by Alan Ayckbourn and presented by SutCo, the play is set over one eventful night in the seventies, and sees the lives (and bedrooms) of four couples, from the stereotypical “very in love” young couple to the “it beats being alone” old couple that know each other’s quirks.

The younger couple, Malcolm and Kate, are having a house-warming party and invited all their friends, including Jan and Nick, a middle of the road couple who don’t seem to be getting along that well any more. Compounding the situation is Nick’s injured back, so he skips the party and Jan goes along. All seems fine until Trevor (an argument against humans being an intelligent species) and Susannah (who sets women’s lib 30 years back), the only couple whosebedroom is never seen, arrive to the party, separately

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SutCo’s production was quite complete (a nice touch was the decoration in the rooms to convey the emotions of each couple) and you couldn’t fault anyone involved for any sense of uneasiness you might get. They are mostly playing for laughs (specially Richard Horwitz as the tired old man Ernest) and pull the whole spirit of Ayckbourn’s script.

From this point onwards, the humour is contrasted with tense situations that although exaggerated for comedic effort, are not too distant from real life. Quite a few nervous laughs arose from the audience, which did include a few elderly couples who seemed to see something from their lives reflected on stage. As any farce goes, the plot continues to spiral towards a happy conclusion. Or so it seems.

The final scene seems to quite premonitory. We’ve seen the souls of three different couples, reflected on the various states of order and chaos in their bedrooms. All three stages of stagnation have shown their faces and although the storm is gone and the skies are blue, the feeling of dread of the supposedly happy ending leaves the comedy side of this farce sitting on the bleachers, while a bittersweet note ends the play.

Samuel Valdes Lopez, Forge Arts, 7th March 2010

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