Review Roundup: Lindsay Posner's Revival of RELATIVELY SPEAKING
The play was Ayckbourn's first major success in 1965, and follows Ginny and Greg over a summer's weekend, revealing the twists and secrets that accompany spontaneous relationships, resulting in a quintessentially English comedy.
Tickets: £19 - £52.50. Box Office: 0844 482 5120/ www.delfontmackintosh.co.uk.
Let's see what the critics had to say:
Mark Valencia of whatsonstage.com writes: Like his contemporary Tom Stoppard, the young Ayckbourn was in starry-eyed love with language and as early as Relatively Speaking his ear for the absurd in mundane conversation was attuned. Felicity Kendal's name is synonymous with both playwrights so it comes as a surprise to learn that this is her first appearance in an Ayckbourn play since The Norman Conquests in 1973. Our loss, for her performance as Sheila, the supposed mother, is a masterclass in pace, timing and killer moments.
Charles Spencer of the Daily Telegraph says: The result is that the comedy - which now so evocatively captures the mood and morals of the swinging Sixties - is blessed, at least as far as the play's construction is concerned, with something of the formal elegance of the 18th century. Just as the plot of Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer was based on the hero mistaking his future father-in-law for an innkeeper, so Ayckbourn's play derives its momentum from the fact that his young hero mistakes his dolly-bird girlfriend's older lover for her father.
Michael Billington of the Guardian says: This is the play that in 1967 gave Alan Ayckbourn his first West End hit. Seeing it again after all these years, in Lindsay Posner's witty production, I was reminded of the play's brilliance as a theatrical construct. Although lighter in texture than many of the 70 or so plays Ayckbourn has written since, it contains fascinating intimations of the middle-class marital angst that was to become his speciality.
LIbby Purves of the Times says: ...utterly British romp deftly directed by Lindsay Posner and led by two beloved TV players... verbal farce of social misunderstanding is intriguing as well as enduringly funny... Thus with elegant Ayckbournian cunning, hysteria rises from beneath the wisteria... The nuances are well taken: Max Bennett as young Greg deploys just enough of an Estuary twang... Felicity Kendal as the rural hausfrau is perfect, a woman conditioned to smoothing male feathers... But when, in the final moments, the worm turns she deploys a fine wounded wifely steeliness. Meanwhile Coy gives good bluster, and Kara Tointon is a credible secretary-bird on the cusp of liberation.
Henry Hitchings of the Evening Standard writes: A slick revival of a cleverly constructed play that offers an unsettling picture of marital distress and tight-lippEd Englishness, at times ripely amusing. Yet for all Alan Ayckbourn's craft it strains credibility, and too many of the jokes are predictable.