Westport Country Playhouse
Westport Country Playhouse is currently presenting an entertaining and skillfully acted revival of Alan Ayckbourn’s play, “Bedroom Farce.” Directed by John Tillinger, the show features four different couples and takes place on the luxurious set (designed by Marjorie Bradley Kellogg) of three separate bedrooms. While having the action take place strictly in a bedroom setting sometimes seems limiting, the playwright has provided enough laughs and delightful complications to keep the show consistently interesting and lively. The cast of eight game and talented actors could not be bettered and, while I, at times, felt like the whole production could have been a little snappier, “Bedroom Farce” at the Westport Country Playhouse still provides a great deal of enjoyment.
One of the keys to what makes this show so enjoyable is, undoubtedly, the group of fine performances by the entire company. As the oldest couple onstage, in the bedroom on the left, Paxton Whitehead and Cecilia Hart are masters at work. Let Paxton Whitehead, as Ernest, utter a withering line and the theatre rocks with laughter. As his wife, Delia, Cecilia Hart gets to share in the mirth of the evening and she is at her funniest when she must deal with her son’s wife in the second act.
The play, itself, concerns a misguided party thrown by Malcolm and Kate (the delightful Scott Drummond and Claire Karpen, respectively), who occupy the middle bedroom onstage, and the fallout of events when everything goes wrong at their party. Malcolm and Kate have their own problems as a couple, but it is the aftermath of their party that truly sets the play’s action in motion. While the plot can feel a trifle thin, playwright Alan Ayckbourn fills the show with tons of witty lines and unexpected situations, with all of the actors making the most of their material.
As the third couple, the amusing Matthew Greer (who did such wonderful work in Westport Country Playhouse’s production of “And a Nightingale Sang”) plays Nick, who spends the entirety of the show lying on his bed, due to the agony of his bad back. (He occupies the third bedroom, on the right hand side of the stage). As his wife, Jan, the kittenish Nicole Lawrence is the ideal foil to her husband, and one of the highlights of the show is when she and Matthew Greer get stuck together on their bed, unable to move.
But perhaps the craziest twosome is the pairing of Carson Elrod, as Trevor, and his wife Susannah, hilariously played by Sarah Manton. Dressed almost like a rock star, Carson Elrod is a real scream in his role and he is matched by the deliciously ditzy Sarah Manton. I would be loathe to give any of the best moments away, but to hear this actress repeatedly saying affirmations to herself throughout the show is one of the funniest conceits that the playwright has conjured up.
By its very title alone, “Bedroom Farce” concerns the farcical aspects of all these characters and their relationships to each other. If I had one complaint about the show, it would be that, at times, the momentum of the various stories onstage is not consistently sustained, though the show rarely lags for long. Perhaps, if the pacing of the show was sped up just a bit, the play would work even better than it does. Still, “Bedroom Farce,” by Alan Ayckbourn, yields the kind of laugh-out-loud moments that every comedy strives for, and to watch this entire plot unfold is one of the delights of the evening. If you are in the mood for a zany night out at the theater, this production of “Bedroom Farce” at the Westport Country Playhouse certainly fits the bill.
“Bedroom Farce” continues performances at the Westport Country Playhouse in Westport, CT through September 13, 2015. For tickets, please visit www.westportplayhouse.org or call the box office at (203) 227-4177.