Four couples, three bedrooms, two celebrations, one blazing row and an illicit kiss (or two). Alan Ayckbourn's ingenious comedy shines a brilliant spotlight onto the trials and tribulations of suburban marriage. Trevor and Susannah have a problem relationship which requires urgent attention. What better solution than to talk it over with family and friends? Preferably in their respective bedrooms and ideally in the middle of the night. Inevitably, one problem relationship tends to spark off another. When you have friends like Trevor and Susannah, nobody gets much sleep.
Alan Ayckbourn's West End theatre plays include Absent Friends, Absurd Person Singular, Bedroom Farce, A Chorus of Disapproval, The Divide, How The Other Half Loves, The Norman Conquests, Relatively Speaking and Woman in Mind.
Bedroom Farce - Original London West End Production 1977
Previewed 1 March 1977, Opened 16 March 1977, Closed 17 August 1978 (in repertory) at the NT Lytteton Theatre
Previewed 6 November 1978, Opened 7 November 1978, Closed 29 September 1979 at the Prince Of Wales Theatre
The original cast at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre featured Michael Gough as 'Ernest' and Joan Hickson as 'Delia'; Michael Kitchen as 'Nick' and Polly Adams as 'Jan'; Derek Newark as 'Malcolm' and Susan Littler as 'Kate'; Stephen Moore as 'Trevor' and Maria Aitken as 'Susannah'.
The original West End cast at the Prince of Wales Theatre featured Michael Aldridge as 'Ernest' and Joan Hickson as 'Delia'; Michael Stroud as 'Nick' and Cheryl Campbell as 'Jan'; Derek Newark as 'Malcolm' and Susan Littler as 'Kate'; Stephen Moore as 'Trevor' and Delia Lindsay as 'Susannah'.
Directed by Alan Ayckbourn with designs by Timothy O'Brien and Tazeena Firth, lighting by Peter Radmore and sound by Freya Edwards.
During the West End transfer run at the Prince of Wales Theatre, real-life husband and wife, Micheal Denison and Dulcie Gray took over the roles of married couple 'Ernest' and 'Delia'.
Bedroom Farce - 1st London West End Revival 2002
Previewed 5 April 2002, Opened 8 April 2002, Closed 29 June 2002 at the Aldwych Theatre in London
The cast featured Richard Briers and June Whitfield as 'Ernest' and 'Delia'; Nigel Lindsay and Samantha Spiro as 'Nick' and 'Jan'; Jasper Britton and Suzy Aitchison as 'Malcolm' and 'Kate'; and Jason Watkins and Rose Keegan as 'Trevor' and 'Susannah'. Directed by Loveday Ingram with designs by Lez Brotherston, lighting by Paul Pyant and music by Paul Englishby.
"There are four couples involved in Bedroom Farce, all married, all heterosexual, all white, all on their first time round - from which you will grasp that this play was written a long time ago when we were all much more conventional; when taste was a matter of Laura Ashley florals or Habitat scarlet, and sex was something you kept down your trousers and didn't flash about. It was 1975 to be precise and in many ways this is a period piece, as illustrated by a set which simultaneously exposes the bedrooms of three of the couples... We don't see the bedroom where not-very-clever Trevor, who almost married Jan, has ended up with neurotic Susannah. This deeply egotistical pair are going through a sticky patch and it's their selfish careless tramp through the lives and bedrooms of their friends and family which cunningly exposes the weaknesses of all these deeply middleclass marriages and provides the real subject of this clever, funny play. It's vintage Ayckbourn, intricately wrought, and brilliantly observed, which Loveday Ingram directs with assurance, if occasionally with a heavy comic hand. The farcical physical comedy is too much in the shrieking 'Don't panic!' mode of Seventies sitcoms Fawlty Towers and Dad's Army, and can feel both dated and tiring. But it's nevertheless often very funny. June Whitfield's delivery of one of Ayckbourn's funniest lines: 'My mother always used to say, if SEX ever rears its ugly head, close your eyes before you see the rest of it,' is priceless, but it's the bleaker notes, revealing the aching hearts at the centre of apparently happy marriages, that will haunt." The Mail on Sunday
"Twenty-seven years after it was first performed, Alan Ayckbourn's Bedroom Farce has lost none of its sparkle. The new production by Loveday Ingram at the Aldwych Theatre offers an evening of unflagging entertainment - and rather more. Three separate bedrooms occupy the stage, dovetailed together by Lez Brotherston's ingenious set. In one, grey-haired Ernest and Delia are dressing up for an anniversary dinner at a local restaurant. Over on the right, jokey, cheerful Malcolm and Kate are about to give a housewarming party. In the left-hand corner, Nick lies immobilised by a torn muscle and feeling sorry for himself, while his wife Jan slips over to the party in the hope of meeting her old admirer Trevor... The wild agitations that follow are handled with cool comic skill. There's a cumulative effect, too: details that might not seem all that funny in isolation gain hugely from their context... At the same time the play is farce with a human face. Tensions and frustrations emerge. Resentments and inadequacies are laid bare. There are touching moments - though not so many of them that the flow of mirth is seriously impeded." The Sunday Telegraph
Bedroom Farce in London at the Aldwych Theatre previewed from 5 April, opened on 8 April 2002 and closed on 29 June 2002.
Bedroom Farce - 2nd London West End Revival 2010
Previewed 24 March 2010, Opened 30 March 2010, Closed 19 June 2010 at the Duke of York's Theatre
The cast featured David Horovitch as 'Ernest' and Jenny Seagrove as 'Delia'; Tony Gardner as 'Nick' and Sara Crowe as 'Jan'; Daniel Bretts as 'Malcolm' and Flinty Williams as 'Kate'; Orlando Seale as 'Trevor' and Rachel Pickup as 'Susannah'. Directed by Sir Peter Hall with set designs by Simon Higlett, costumes by Mark Bouman and Mia Flodquist, lighting by Peter Mumford and sound by Gregory Clarke. This revival was originally seen from October to November 2008 at the Rose Theatre in Kingston where Peter Hall is the theatre's Founding Director. Interestingly it was Peter Hall who co-directed, with Alan Ayckbourn, the original production of Bedroom Farce at the National Theatre in 1977.
Jenny Seagrove's recent West End stage credts include Clifford Odets' The Country Girl (Apollo Theatre 2010), Alan Ayckbourn's Absurd Person Singular (Garrick Theatre 2007), Somerset Maugham's The Letter (Wyndham's Theatre 2007), Tennessee Williams' The Night Of The Iguana (Lyric Theatre 2005) and David Hare's Secret Rapture (Lyric Theatre 2003). David Horovitch recent London theatre credits include Ronald Harwood's double-bill Collaboration and Taking Sides (Duchess Theatre 2009), Mary Stuart (Apollo Theatre 2005) and The Queen and I (Vaudeville Theatre 1994).
"Painful, tender, deliciously funny, Alan Ayckbourn's ingenious comedy of marriage and manners looks simultaneously quaint and spot-on in this revival by Peter Hall, 32 years after Hall co-directed the play's London premiere with its author at the National Theatre. Unfolding over one night in three suburban bedrooms, the action remains unmistakably set in the Seventies: the trousers are flared, the wallpaper florid and in a world innocent of today's technology, flirtations can't be pursued or misunderstandings set straight by a swift text. But the piece's emotional core remains poignantly, hilariously true... Peter Hall's deft production is beautifully performed... Lovely stuff." The Times
"Bedroom Farce examines the knots into which people tie themselves in the name of love. Few dramatists chart this territory quite so well as Alan Ayckbourn, and Peter Hall's fine revival of Bedroom Farce reminds us just what a canny writer he is. The title and three beds on stage promise hanky-panky but Ayckbourn gives us everything but. The plays' four couples eat, fight, sleep and sulk in the beds but never get round to anything else... The staging is beautifully pitched.... each couple is sharply defined... The farce arises not just from clever stagecraft but also from painful revelations - that is what makes it so irresistibly funny." The Financial Times
Bedroom Farce in London at the Duke of York's Theatre previewed from 24 March 2010, opened on 30 March 2010 and closed on 10 July 2010.