In Gareth Machin’s production at Salisbury Playhouse, opening the 2014-15 season until Saturday 4th October, the theatre has been re-conformed to allow the fullest spread for the set, in which three bedrooms are constantly visible. Tom Roger’s brilliantly detailed design has Delia and Ernest’s candlewick bedspread, matching valance and dressing table contrasted with Nick and Jan’s trendy yellow and orange bedroom, and Malcolm and Kate’s room in their new home, mismatched, piney and waiting for the flat-pack mystery present to be assembled.
All set over one LONG night, Delia and Ernest celebrate their anniversary with a disappointing dinner and retreat, hungry, to bed, only to be visited in the small hours by their very peculiar daughter-in law, Susannah.
Malcolm and Kate try to host a house warming party, but their bonhomie is scuppered by the arrival of the warring spouses, Trevor and Susannah.
And Nick is confined to bed with a bad back, made worse by falling helplessly while trying to fetch his book, while his wife Jan is at Malcolm and Kate’s party.
The Salisbury cast is exceptional, beautifully balanced and perfectly paced.
Penelope Beaumont joins Graham Seed in the traditional bedroom, with Niall Costigan and Eleanor Wyld hosting their party and playing their personal games, David Partridge and Emily Wachter as Jane and Nick and Mawgan Gyles and Emma Noakes drifting from place to place spreading doom.
It’s exciting news that six of the company will also be performing in the next Playhouse production, Terence Rattigan’s Separate Tables, from 16th October to 8th November, bringing a repertory feel back to the theatre.
This is a superb production of Ayckbourn. Do go and see it.
Photographs by Keith Pattison