The Mill at Sonning - Relatively Speaking
27th February to 18th April 2020
Review from tthe Newbury Weekly News.
Ayckbourn gold at Mill
Cast impresses in pre-London run at Sonning theatre
Relatively Speaking, at The Mill at Sonning, until April 18
There have been many successful productions of Alan Ayckbourn plays although this one was his first big success when it was shown at the Duke of York's Theatre London on March 29, 1967. That is a long time ago, but the play has lost nothing in terms of hilarious dialogue and current speech patterns in the years between.
This sparkling production benefitted from some first-class acting and was directed unobtrusively, but effectively, by Robin Herford. Not surprisingly, Herford brought out all the humour and subtlety of Ayckbourn’s writing as he worked for years as director and actor at the Stephen Joseph Theatre. Scarborough, and even took over as artistic director for the two years that Sir Alan spent at the National Theatre.
The play opens in the London flat of Ginny and Greg. Christopher Bonwell portrayed the curious, slightly nervous character of Greg very well, pursuing his girlfriend Ginny, but concentrating on injecting humour into every situation.
Equally effective as the self-assured Ginny, Lianne Harvey played a young woman who was not quite sure what she wanted, but was convinced she was going to get it. Ginny is off to see her parents in Buckinghamshire and although planning to go alone, Greg finds the address she is headed for and decides to follow her, meet the parents and ask her father for Ginny’s hand in marriage.
The only trouble is that the parents are not really Ginny’s parents and she has an altogether different reason for going there. This is where the fun starts.
Rachel Fielding gave an exceptionally good comic performance as Sheila, the supposed mother, her facial expressions conveying every mood and her comedy timing spot-on. Also impressive was James Simmons as Phillip, his portrayal of a suburban gardening freak-type husband with philandering tendencies was very well realised.
To say more about the plot would be to say too much. As to the production, it was brisk, medium paced and extremely well-acted. You have until mid-April to see it, but if you don't make it by then, the production transfers almost immediately to the Jermvn Street Theatre in London from April 21 until May 16.
There are reviews from The Stage ("a robust, thoughtful revival" - ★★★), the Oxford Mail ("glorious comedy... brilliantly scripted confusions leave audiences blinking through tears of laughter wonderful fun" - ★★★★).