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 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

The Mill at Sonning

Box office

0118 969 8000

Sonning Eye, Reading, RG4 6TY.


Reviews of 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" - ★★★★).

For more details

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Reviews in the Archive

Singin' in the Rain (November 2019)
Run for Your Wife (October 2019)
Private Lives (June 2019)
Guys and Dolls (November 2018)
A Night in Provence (September 2018)
Ten Times Table (August 2018)
The Unexpected Guest (June 2018)
Move Over, Mrs Markham (April 2018)
The Hound of the Baskervilles (February 2018)
My Fair Lady (November 2017)
Perfect Wedding (September 2017)
Spider's Web (July 2017)
Improbable Fiction (March 2017)
Dead Simple (January 2017)
High Society (November 2016)
The Hollow (July 2016)
Last of the Red Hot Lovers (March 2016)
The Perfect Murder (January 2016)
Stepping Out (November 2015)
Round and Round the Garden (October 2015)
Love, Loss, and What I Wore (August 2015)
Killjoy (May 2015)
Educating Rita (January 2015)
Last Confessions of a Scallywag (July 2014)