“Bedroom Farce” at Westport Country Playhouse
By Marlene S. Gaylinn
A prolific, British playwright, Alan Ayckbourn is noted for amusing, contemporary, ensemble works that feature clever dialogue and interactions between various classes of English society. Although this play pokes fun at human nature rather than social status, if you’re a fan of the clever, British, TV comedy series “Keeping up Appearances,” “Bedroom Farce” at Westport Country Playhouse (WCP) is certainly for you.
This situation play takes place on one Saturday night, in three bedrooms that are in separate homes. Each room, nicely designed by Marjorie Bradley Kellogg, reflects the personalities of the couples who occupy them. To our left, is a formal, English bedroom complete with period furniture, and a heavy, maroon, coverlet set. The elderly couple who belong in this setting are “Delia” (Cecilia Hart) and “Ernest” (Paxton Whitehead), who are set in their ways.
The second bedroom is unmade. It contains a bed with a modern, bookcase headboard, a crumpled, blue blanket, and half finished wallpaper. This space is occupied by an energetic, fun-loving couple, “Kate” (Claire Karpen) and “Malcolm” (Scott Drummond).They like to tease and to hide each others shoes and kitchen tools among the bedding.
The third modern bedroom contains “Nick” (Matthew Greer) and his wife “Jan” (Nicole Lowrance). Nick is in bed trying to recover from back pain, while Jan is preparing to go to Kate and Malcom’s house warming party by herself.
The older couple in the first bedroom has a son, “Trevor” (Carson Elrod) who was recently married to “Susannah” (Sarah Manton). These two, young, social misfits have no onstage bedroom but float between all three rooms and take turns occupying the other three couples’ beds.
The trouble begins when Kate and Malcom invite the two young couples to a party at their house while knowing that Susannah and Trevor spell trouble. The problem is that they each have their own insecurities to battle, and frequently argue in public. In addition to Susannah and Trevor’s marital problems, there was a previous attraction between Jan and Trevor, which has not faded completely. That’s one of the reasons why Jan is anxious to leave her back-injured husband and attend the party alone. Well, you can guess what happens when this volatile love triangle meet and clash at the party. Do you recall a time when company came and piled their coats on the bed? Well, picture a heated argument amidst a huge clothing mound, plus a variety of hard tools.
In an effort to seek consolation after the blow-up, Jan ends up at Trevor’s parents house sleeping in their bed, and Trevor seeks help by lying on the beds in the other two bedrooms – each of them causing a commotion wherever they happen to be. Before things settle down, tempers flare, furniture is broken and husbands are dispossessed. On top of all this action is a heap of hearty laughter.
John Tillinger, who is an expert in directing Ackbourne’s plays on Broadway and WCP, is in charge of this splendid cast. This is the fifth Ackboune play presented in Westport and audiences may recognize the popular actors who were featured here before.
Plays to September 13 -- Tickets: 203-227-5137
This review appears in “On CT & NY Theatre” Sept/2015