Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings


Relatively speaking

The Nonentities

Rose Theatre, Kidderminster


THE Nonentities reopen for their autumn season at The Rose in Kidderminster, with its revamped theatre logo and stylish new foyer, and continue the quality on to stage with this brisk and witty production of Alan Ayckbourn’s Relatively Speaking.

First premiered in Scarborough in 1965, it transferred to London in 1967, becoming Ayckbourn’s first West End hit. It’s easy to understand why as it is a delight in the way the misinterpreted dialogue between the characters makes perfect sense to them with only the audience on the inside of the truth.

The story opens in a London flat where a young couple Greg and Ginny are getting ready for the day. Greg wants Ginny for his wife but is a little confused after finding a pair of men’s slippers under the bed, and bouquets and boxes chocolates all around the place. Ginny’s reason for them being there is a little thin, so as she heads off, supposedly going to visit her parents, Greg makes plans to follow her.

He arrives at the home of Philip and Sheila and wrongly assumes that they are Ginny’s parents. Greg asks for Ginny’s hand in marriage from Philip, but he mistakenlSue Downing with Charlotte Moseleyy believes Greg is asking permission to marry his wife Sheila whom he believes is having an affair. Once Ginny finally arrives, the truth begins to unravel but not before everything becomes even more complicated to great comic effect.

Greg is played by Stefan Austin who did a fine job of playing the precise yet shy young man and as Greg ends the play never fully knowing the truth about anything, he kept his performance nicely on track holding the central path of reason in the ensuing chaos.

Sue Downing as Sheila Carter with Charlotte Moseley as Ginny Whittaker

Ginny was played by Charlotte Moseley and was very believable as the attractive young lady who might have been fending off past and present suitors, settling now for the naive Greg but still being pestered by an `Old ‘ flame.

Shelia was brought to life nicely by Susan Downing as Philip’s wise and wily wife, keeping her husband dangling on a string over her possible fidelity and getting the final say. It was evident, that in this play, like many others of its time, the key to the plot is a relationship remnant from the 50s and 60s whereby a married couple seem to accept an `affair’ almost as some integral part of married life. Obviously a far cry from reality.

Robert Graham was the lucky Philip, with his young girl down in London and his wife and impressive home life in the country. Graham did a great job garnering a great many laughs from his facial reaction alone and his comic timing was perfect.

The play was directed by Robert Downing and while there was still scope to have pushed the action into a greater level of frenzy, none of the key comic moments were lost.

Praise must also go to the staging team for again speedily transforming the excellent set from opening London flat, to the Country garden exterior, a feat that seems to be commonplace in several of the companies’ recent productions.

Relatively Speaking is a great evening’s entertainment. With our summer finally coming to a close and as the play begins with a certain level of stage undress, it’s a spicy and amusing to way to step into autumn.    

Jeff Grant


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