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Relatively Speaking

by Alan Ayckbourn
20-22 September 2007



Simon Jackson, Carey Fern, Andy Cragg & Jan Singfield

ALAN Ayckbourn was asked to write this play ‘to make people laugh when their seaside summer holidays were spoiled by the rain and they came into the theatre to get dry before trudging back to their landladies.’

I wasn’t on holiday, and it wasn’t raining, but this glorious comedy certainly made me laugh and raised my cold-infested spirits.

It was a little slow and dull to start with, but that was, I think, entirely down to the writing. Once this story of mistaken identities and misunderstandings picked up it was very funny and fast-paced indeed, and Barry Baynton’s cast did him proud.

Carey Fern made a most impressive stage debut as Ginny, whose intended visit to the country “to visit her parents” starts off the chain of events, and Andy Cragg was excellent as her boyfriend, Greg.

As the couple whose quiet Sunday is about to be totally disrupted, Jan Singfield (Sheila) absolutely stole the show and gave a wonderfully natural performance, while Simon Jackson (Philip) created a good characterisation but caused things to stutter somewhat on the frequent occasions when he lost his lines.

And what a lovely idea to set the ‘English Country Garden’ scene with two talented young musicians, Hugo and Jessamy Pullen.

Linda Kirkman, The Daily Echo


Alan Ayckbourn's plays are a gift to theatre groups and Wimborne Drama chose to start their autumn season with the farce Relatively Speaking.

Set in the 1960s, the action begins in Ginny's bed-sit, drab but full of flowers and chocolates from an unseen admirer. Into her life has come the inexperienced and quiet Gregory who, despite proposing marriage, has doubts about her fidelity.

Deciding to make a new start with Greg and finish the affair with Philip, her older lover, Ginny departs, supposedly to see her parents but in fact to visit him. A sunny Sunday morning finds Philip in his elegant garden, taking breakfast with devoted wife Sheila who has decided not to go to church as she usually does. Enter Greg who, believing their house to be that of Ginny's parents, has decided to ask their blessing on the marriage. Mistaken identities ensue with all three talking at cross purposes until the arrival of Ginny who really causes chaos and confusion.

In the end Greg dreams on in blissful ignorance, Philip is foiled in his plans to continue the affair, Ginny observes that Sheila is the perfect wife for Philip while Sheila herself, having realised the situation, is just happy to be the ideal housewife who adores her husband. Or is she?

In her first acting part Carey Fern as the deceitful Ginny made a tentative start but gathered confidence as the play developed. Displaying shapely legs in the mini-skirt of the era, it was obvious why she attracted men. Andy Cragg looked and characterised the part of shy but sincere Greg and it was pleasing that director Barry Baynton did not caricature the role as gormless and clumsy.

Simon Jackson was not entirely at ease as bombastic and pompous Philip but Jan Singfield showed her theatrical pedigree in a wonderful portrayal of Sheila. Faced with two strangers telling conflicting stories, then a husband revealing his infidelity she was superb, displaying immaculate timing.

The pace of Act One was slow, however, and it was disappointing that so many prompts were needed especially at critical points in the farce. The action gained momentum in Act Two with the direction tighter and the comedy being brought out, all four actors savouring the humorous lines which Ayckbourn wrote so well.

Pat Scott, The Community Magazine

Relatively Speaking posterSheila (Jan Singfield)
Ginny (Carey Fern)
Ginny (Carey Fern) and Greg (Andy Cragg)
Greg & Ginny
Ginny & Greg
Sheila (Jan Singfield) and Philip (Simon Jackson)
Philip (Simon Jackson) and Sheila (Jan Singfield)
Sheila and Ginny
Philip & Greg
Philip & Ginny
Ginny & Greg

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