Step back to the '70s for a hugely enjoyable comedy

Theatre review by Hannah Richardson

Thursday, 17th November 2016, 2:27 pm
Updated Friday, 18th November 2016, 12:21 pm
Relatively Speaking

If the pace of modern life fells just too much and you’re already getting stressed out at the thought of Christmas, take some time out to enjoy a fine piece of nostalgia at Milton Keynes Theatre.

Well-known TV and stage actors Robert Powell and Liza Goddard star in the touring production of Alan Ayckbourn’s first great West End success, Relatively Speaking – and it couldn’t be in more capable hands.

The production is by Theatre Royal Bath Productions, which also recently brought us their delicious version of Noel Coward’s Present Laughter, starring Samuel West and Phyllis Logan.

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Greg only met Ginny a month ago but has already made up his mind that she’s the girl for him.

When she tells him she’s going to visit her parents, he decides this is the moment to ask her father for his daughter’s hand in marriage.

Discovering a scribbled address, he follows her to Buckinghamshire, where he finds Philip and Sheila enjoying a peaceful Sunday morning breakfast in the garden. The only thing is, they’re not Ginny’s parents...

The scene is set for a riot of misunderstandings and confusion, all within the ever-so-polite setting of the archetypal English country garden.

First staged in 1967, the show deals with the then controversial subject of sex before marriage, opening with a rumpled bedroom scene where the young couple have obviously just got out of bed.

Would it seem dated to a modern audience nearly 50 years later? At first, I thought it might. But by midway through the first act, I was enjoying it so much I no longer cared.

It was a like delicious step back in time to the world of 1970s BBC sitcoms starring Richard Briers - who in fact played Greg in the original stage production.

Anthony Eden does a great job of creating the same bumbling likeability in the character of Greg.

Lindsey Campbell feels authentic as the thoroughly modern Ginny who’s found Mr Right and is now desperately trying to shrug off her old (in both senses) admirer.

But’s it’s stage veterans Robert Powell and Liza Goddard who really bring the show to life as middle-aged Philip and Sheila.

Goddard is just magnificent as the long-suffering wronged housewife, determinedly taking everything in her stride with a charming smile and gritted teeth.

Powell somehow manages the unlikely feat of bringing charm to the caddish Philip, and the pair of them are a lesson in comic timing and delivery.

It might not be high art, but who cares? Sit back, relax and enjoy watching real professionals at work in this hugely enjoyable comedy.

Box office: 0844 871 7652 or call 0844 871 7677.