Review: Bedroom Farce at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage

PUBLISHED: 18:04 06 October 2016 | UPDATED: 15:02 10 October 2016

Susannah (Cameron Leigh) and Trevor (Mike Denman) have an argument in Bedroom Farce at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage [Picture: Dave Nott]

Susannah (Cameron Leigh) and Trevor (Mike Denman) have an argument in Bedroom Farce at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage [Picture: Dave Nott]

Copyright: Dave Nott 2013

A highly entertaining production of Alan Ayckbourn comedy Bedroom Farce opened at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage last night (Wednesday).

Trevor (Mike Denman) and Kate (Caroline Rodgers) in Bedroom Farce at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage [Picture: Dave Nott]Trevor (Mike Denman) and Kate (Caroline Rodgers) in Bedroom Farce at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage [Picture: Dave Nott]

“Anyone for pilchards on toast?”

Performing a comedy on stage can go either of two ways.

The audience sits stony-faced as the jokes fall flat, or theatregoers laugh at the right moments and leave the auditorium with a smile on their face.

The cast of Bedroom Farce at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage - Gemma Oaten, Mike Denman, Cameron Leigh, Caroline Rodgers, director Catherine Lomax, Chris Aukett, Erin Geraghty, Ben Roddy and Paul LaversThe cast of Bedroom Farce at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage - Gemma Oaten, Mike Denman, Cameron Leigh, Caroline Rodgers, director Catherine Lomax, Chris Aukett, Erin Geraghty, Ben Roddy and Paul Lavers

The latter was certainly the case last night after the opening performance of Ayckbourn comedy Bedroom Farce at the Gordon Craig Theatre.

Directed by Catherine Lomax, the Stevenage production wouldn’t have been out of place on a West End stage. Despite a few glitches, it was a joy to watch.

Regional theatre can often be seen as the poor relation to London’s bright lights, but in the right hands Ayckbourn’s writing is still comedy gold, wherever is it performed.

A play about relationships, Bedroom Farce had the audience laughing at the marital antics of four contrasting couples in three bedrooms during one rather eventful night.

It helped that the eight cast members slipped into their roles so effortlessly, and seemed to be having just as much fun as those watching.

Set in the mid-70s, the stage was split into three – with the action taking place in the respective bedrooms of Ernest and Delia, lovebirds Malcolm and Kate, who are hosting a housewarming party downstairs, and Nick and Jan.

Trevor and Susannah, the only couple whose bedroom is not seen, are the catalysts for all sorts of confusion and chaos in the various households.

Caroline Rodgers was lovely as the warm-hearted Kate, who still offered Trevor a room for the night after he’d disastrously ruined their party and loitered in her bedroom as she lay naked in bed, much to the annoyance of husband Malcolm, played by Chris Aukett.

Put out by being called ‘boring’ in bed by Kate, Malcolm later spends most of the evening being exactly that – boring – by displaying his rather dubious, bloke-ish DIY skills.

Nick (Ben Roddy) and Jan (Gemma Oaten) in Bedroom Farce at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage [Picture: Dave Nott]Nick (Ben Roddy) and Jan (Gemma Oaten) in Bedroom Farce at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage [Picture: Dave Nott]

You’ll have to watch the play to see the rather interesting result of his handiwork.

Experienced stage actors, and real-life couple, Paul Lavers and Erin Geraghty take on the roles of Trevor’s parents, Ernest and Delia.

We first encounter them with Ernest seemingly more concerned by the leaking gutter than the couple’s anniversary dinner that Delia is so meticulously preparing for.

Nick (Ben Roddy) and Jan (Gemma Outen) in Bedroom Farce at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage [Picture: Dave Nott]Nick (Ben Roddy) and Jan (Gemma Outen) in Bedroom Farce at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage [Picture: Dave Nott]

After returning from the restaurant, they later end up having a bedtime snack of pilchards on toast, before highly strung daughter-in-law Susannah turns up unexpectedly on their doorstep in the middle of the night in crisis.

Totally lacking in any self-confidence, Susannah pours out her troubles to her in-laws, and ends up sharing a bed with Delia, with Ernest firstly shoved into the bathroom to read his copy of Tom Brown’s School Days, and later a damp spare bedroom.

It would be harsh on the rest of the cast’s fine performances to single out anyone in particular, but Ben Roddy’s business-driven Nick was at times hysterical.

Susannah (Cameron Leigh) and Delia (Erin Geraghty) in Bedroom Farce at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage [Picture: Dave Nott]Susannah (Cameron Leigh) and Delia (Erin Geraghty) in Bedroom Farce at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage [Picture: Dave Nott]

Stuck in bed with a bad back, and missing the party that his wife has gone to, he amusingly groaned his way through the show, with former Emmerdale actress Gemma Oaten playing his unfortunate partner Jan.

The scene where the incapacitated Nick tries to wriggle to the end of the bed to retrieve his book had the audiences in stitches.

As did Nick and Jan’s rather clumsy attempts to get into bed later that night, after she finds him in a heap on the floor.

After their recent pairing in hit musical Singin’ in the Rain at the Gordon Craig, Mike Denman and Cameron Leigh were reunited as the self-absorbed Trevor and Susannah, a couple with some serious marital difficulties.

Following her role as shallow Hollywood leading lady Lina Lamont in Singin’ in the Rain, Cameron was suitably neurotic as the sobbing Susannah, who catches selfish ‘destroyer’ Trevor kissing ex-girlfriend Jan at the party.

With his medallion, 70s-style trousers and tan coloured leather jacket, Trevor looked like an extra from the set of Starsky and Hutch.

Delia (Erin Geraghty), Ernest (Paul Lavers) and Susannah (Cameron Leigh) in Bedroom Farce at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage [Picture: Dave Nott]Delia (Erin Geraghty), Ernest (Paul Lavers) and Susannah (Cameron Leigh) in Bedroom Farce at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage [Picture: Dave Nott]

The audience, as well as the bed-ridden Nick, got more than an eyeful of Trevor when he later paraded on stage in just his colourful underpants and shirt open to his waist.

If you’ve not got tickets for Bedroom Farce yet, hurry.

The fun-filled in-house Gordon Craig production runs until Saturday, October 8.

But there are already tentative plans to take it on the road. If they do, don’t miss it.

• Review: 4/5

• For tickets call the Gordon Craig Theatre box office on 01438 363200 or visit www.gordon-craig.co.uk

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Welwyn Hatfield Times

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists