Event: Bedroom Farce
Venue: Drama Barn
Bedroom Farce is a light comedy, centred on sexual pairings and combinations of characters as they move through improbable plots and slamming doors, it is perhaps the most common form of farce.
Before the wake of the performance, the audience was presented with three beds, each providing a keyhole-insight into the lives of three couples. Delia and Ernest’s traditional, meticulously tidy abode complete with iron framed bed is situated stage left; the more modern, suburban bedroom of Nick and Jan on the right; and the chaotic, dishevelled, unmade bedroom belonging to Kate and Malcolm takes central position. The latter’s clothing, bedding and appliance-strewn dwelling provided the focal point of the stage, forecasting the disorder to come.
The catalyst to the plot, however, arrives in the shape of a fourth couple and their deteriorating relationship: the endearingly neurotic Susanna and subsequently posh, depressed and exhausted Trevor, both brilliantly acted and supplied many golden moments. Action circled around Kate and Malcolm’s impending housewarming party, of which we never see but is continually referenced in the dialogue. Indeed, the heart of Bedroom Farce’s intelligence lies not in the obvious or overstated, but the ‘backstage’ scenes behind parties and growing crevices in everyday conversations. Its comedic strength lies in its juxtaposition between exultation of the mundane and ordinary with absurd and often dark overtones.
As scenes cleverly flip from and merge between rooms, the subtle intricacy of the complicated web woven between characters soon becomes evident. This was articulated most successfully in Lauren Watters, Delia, and James Duckworth, Ernest, evocation of the elderly couple. Ernest was suitably jovial and conservative, Delia assuring and habitually sweet-natured. The pair provided many of the production’s most humorous moments, at once illustrating a seemingly aged sexual tension only to culminate in an endearing conversation about sardines on toast in bed.
The farcical aspect of the production was a little hit and miss in its execution. At the beginning, the comedic element of Kate and Malcolm’s sweetly humdrum relationship seemed a little forced and stilted, but gradually gained near perfect pace and eloquence toward mid-performance. This also applies to Nick and Jan’s tension-fuelled yet discreetly affectionate act. Having said this, a real sense of the character’s history was established between Jan and Trevor, made all the more believable in a forced and intense kiss. The eternally bed-ridden Nick was deemed helpless and grumpy in his inability to physically react to the events around him, although the convincingness of his vulnerability was at times debatable. Susanna, Gabrielle Stewart, triumphantly drove the drama forward with her anxiously repetitive mutterings and ludicrous reactions.
Overall, Bedroom Farce was a highly enjoyable and well performed production that lived up to its name, leading the audience through turmoil of heartbreak, bitterness and uncertainty to conclude in a mutual settlement and prospective healing of these relationships.