Relatively Speaking, Salisbury Playhouse

FIFTY-two years on, and Alan Ayckbourn’s comedy of miscommunication is still as sublimely funny as it ever was, as the packed audience at Salisbury Playhouse will vouch.

It’s a four-hander about infidelity, acutely observed by the then 28-year-old writer. If the setting in Jo Newman’s brilliant production in Salisbury is extravagantly 60s, even down to the evocative and classic pop soundtrack, there is nothing dated about the situation (or is there, with the Prime Minister’s regally accepted First Mistress?).

Ginny has fallen for the innocent Greg, and so needs to break off her relationship with her married boss, and  pronto. She leaves the boy in bed and heads off to see her “parents” in the country.  Greg, anxious to make a good impression on his future in- laws, makes a spontaneous decision to visit them, too.

Sheila and Philip are having breakfast in the well-tended garden. He’s expecting her to go to church, but it is the day of the ecclesiastical calendar that she always misses.

Moments later Greg will arrive, and so will Ginny.

It would be hard to imagine a more perfect cast for this show than Caroline Harker, her real-life daughter Louise Calf, Tim McMullan and Hubert Burton. In comedy, timing is all, and there is not a breath or inflection missed in this production set in the round. It is wonderful therapy in a time of political uncertainty, frustration and often simple boredom.

See it at Salisbury until 28th September.


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