The Good Life

Ages ago, we booked tickets to see Relatively Speaking at the Wyndham. Rather than our usual London day including a matinee of some West End performance, we decided to try an evening time slot. We also decided to try the Royal Circle, given we’d tried the Stalls at the Wyndham and, apart from the middle of the front row, suffered great interruption every time someone decided to take their seat.

Well, the Royal Circle was excellent. We were still disturbed, given we were on the aisle, but we were in the front row with an uninterrupted view of the stage. Next time, I’d like to try the middle of the front row of the Royal Circle but I’m not sure how Mirinda would feel about that.

We’ve seen Relatively Speaking before (at the Yvonne Arnaud, I think) and, while it’s a typical hilarious Alan Ayckbourn play, the real reason we wanted to go was to see Felicity Kendall. The combination proved a delightful night of hilarity and (almost) non-stop laughs.

The play is about some wonderful mistaken identity with the hapless Gregory stuck on the outskirts of Buckinghamshire under the illusion that he is making a surprise visit to his girlfriend’s parents in order to ask her father for her hand in marriage. These people are not her parents and, for most of the play, are very, very confused. It all makes for some wonderful comedy.

Along with Felicity, who was brilliant as Sheila, Kara Tointon as Ginny was wonderful. What she lacks in stage experience is more than made up for with her talent. She gave a flawless performance. Max Bennett, as Greg, has a wonderful sense of comic timing and a tremendous knack of showing a completely innocent face at times of great confusion. Jonathan Coy as Philip was also very good though Mirinda didn’t like his character very much, which put his marks down a bit.

The whole cast worked wonderfully together and it was an absolute joy to watch. Mirinda laughed out loud for an awful lot of the performance (a rare occurrence) up to the point when she choked on her water and had to go outside and hack away in the stairwell. She didn’t miss very much and soon returned, throat cleared and ready for another bout of hilarity. And she learned a valuable lesson: Don’t take a drink of water during an Ayckbourn comedy.

Relatively Speaking was Ayckbourn’s first big success on the West End. It originally premièred in London in 1967 with a young Richard Briers in the cast (playing Greg) – that’s the tenuous link to The Good Life of the title. At the time Ayckbourn was only 28! It was his second West End outing and proved a great success, setting him up for greater and greater successes.

Our thoroughly enjoyable evening was completed with a pleasant enough journey home on the train. I love living this close to London.

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