garden cast

Round and Round the Garden

Worcester Theatres


A family weekend in Sussex provides the context for this wild and crazy play: at the outset Annie is planning a dirty weekend in a hotel with her brother-in-law Norman, and calls upon another sister and brother-in-law to come and care for their aged mother.

They all end up staying together and are joined by a neighbour, a vet called Tom who fancies Annie, and the relationships become confused and chaotic with the wildness of Norman’s character fuelled by alcohol.

The humour of the piece is derived principally from the eccentricities of the characters and the muddle and confusion in the communication and relationships. Tom, the autistic vet, is devoid of social and emotional intelligence; his failure to interpret subtle signals provide lots of laughter.  Generally this is a study of a small family group who are largely frustrated and unfulfilled. The sexual frustration and the lack of much respect for the marriage bond result in complicated expressions of emotion and behaviours that are both funny and sad.

Phil Yarrow plays the super-excitable Norman who is likened to an unmanageable dog who needs continual exercise. He brings huge energy to the role and much humour to the play. Lawrence Saunders plays Reg and he is likewise very energetic and lively in his role – obsessed with the fastest A roads to all destinations. Ian Parkin is the lost vet Tom: he is at home with his animals, pathetically lost in the subtle exchanges of human relationships.

Dru Stephenson plays the long-suffering Ruth: she has become used to Norman’s faithless and uncontrolled behaviours and has grown cynical. Her toying with the clueless Tom is somewhat mean but funny nonetheless! Katherine Parker-Jones plays the spinster Annie; she is caught between her caring, generous and faithful nature and her frustrations and longing for even a temporary escape from her prison. Kay Crome stepped into the role of Sarah at the last minute and made a very commendable job of her role.

Ayckbourn’s cynical observations of middle class characters and behaviours make for a good deal of laughter with great fun derived from some of the everyday items and situations – lost fuse wires, ropes, prickly roses and deckchairs. Equally there is poignancy and sadness at a lost and frustrated group of characters who are both likeable and trying.

The charm of the presentation in the early evening sunshine and the fresh air is great. The sound was well managed and the actors’ speeches clear and audible. The Commandery Gardens provide a delightful setting for an evening picnic with light entertainment, and the garden is the perfect setting for this play. The forecast is good for the week ahead. Book your tickets and get along to this production which runs to the 17th.

Tim Crow


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