Alan Ayckbourn’s wonderfully funny play, Relatively Speaking, set in the 1960s has certainly stood the test of time. No matter how many social changes have occurred down through some forty years the staples of the plot still hold true, love and marriage, intrigue and jealously, the younger generation rebelling against the older, the boundaries of life remain the essentially the same. With a cast of just four it is a compact gem guaranteed to amuse.
As was de rigueur in the 60s, the young couple Greg and Ginny (Antony Eden and Lindsey Campbell) are living a somewhat rackety life shacking up together in a shabby London flat. However, he’s rather earnest and old fashioned whilst she is a modern girl, a mini-skirted temptress with a past if not littered with lovers certainly the discarded sweet wrapper of a sugar daddy lies somewhere abandoned. In contrast, Philip and Sheila, the middle-aged couple reside in a leafy enclave outside London, their large and imposing house surrounded by well-tended lawns, and immaculate garden furniture.
Despite his unworldly outlook, when Greg finds a strange pair of slippers under Ginny’s bed, and curious phone calls are received even his suspicions are aroused but nevertheless he proposes marriage. She demurs and when she refuses to let him accompany her on a visit to her parents he decides he will follow her and ask her father for her hand in marriage. So far, so traditional but this is where the fun begins! The set changes by way of a backdrop of a London map with red lights plotting the path of the train which takes him to Philip and Sheila’s house.
Antony Eden is excellent as poor deluded Greg, ploughing on with his quest against all opposition and he certainly has a great gift for comedy and perfect timing. Lindsey Campbell’s Ginny is smart and funny with a touch of Holly Golightly about her; even if she is economic with the truth you can’t help but love her.
Liza Goddard is as always perfect. The role of the seemingly downtrodden Sheila suits her, and she brings out the undercurrent of steel that Sheila hides under her uncomplaining and mild nature, which is the perfect foil for her irascible and overbearing husband, Philip, played by Robert Powell. Something of a national treasure, as an actor Robert Powell can turn his hand to anything and in this play he showcases his comedy talent to great effect.
The plot climaxes in a welter of misunderstanding, assumed identities and talking at cross purposes, not to mention the reappearance of those slippers, making for the most hilarious of conclusions. This slick production and superb cast of four make this the most enjoyable two hours of theatre you could spend.