Alan Ayckbourn’s 1975 classic comedy Bedroom Farce – a past box office success for Huddersfield-based theatre company Dick & Lottie – makes a return to the Yorkshire stage this month. And director John Cotgrave is hoping that it will once again prove to be a smash hit.
He explains: “We last did it 11 years ago and it was our highest grossing box office at the time. Now, I’m far more experienced as a director, far more experienced with Alan’s work and far more experienced as a human being, so I’m hoping that I’ve got it in me to do it even better.”
The title of Ayckbourn’s 19th play, which features four married couples, may be misleading to those not familiar with the contemporary playwright’s works. As John says: “People look at the title and think they are going to get a traditional farce, but it’s far from it. The play is a study of relationships and a study of appalling behaviour. The impact that people’s selfish behaviour has on other people’s lives is devastating. But out of that is born the hilarious comedy. That’s the genius of Ayckbourn.”
Dick & Lottie, founded nearly 14 years ago, only performs Ayckbourn works and has plenty of material to work through. The playwright is currently completing his 82nd play.
Ayckbourn’s own short synopsis of Bedroom Farce describes it as: “A highly-strung couple wreak havoc in the bedrooms of three other couples during a single night.” It focuses initially on the marital troubles of one couple, Trevor and Susannah, but dissatisfaction soon spreads like an infection to those around them.
The play, which opens at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield on Tuesday, January 23, has produced a number of challenges for the company. John explains: “We have had to get three double bedrooms into the Syngenta Cellar and ensure there’s still capacity for the audience. We’ve almost done it in the round. Controversially, I have gone for a really young cast, although the play was written for characters of different ages. But I want a new young acting base for Dick & Lottie.”
John believes that one of the reasons for the popularity of Bedroom Farce is that audiences can often identify with the characters. “They can connect with what is going on,” he says. “It’s observational humour of the kind that Alan captures so beautifully.”
Later this year members of Dick & Lottie, who often tour the UK during the summer holidays, will be taking a production of Private Fears in Public Places to an off-Broadway theatre in New York for a five-week run. The venture will reinforce the company’s semi-professional status.
Tickets for Bedroom Farce are £8 to £12 from 01484 430528 or thelbt.org.uk The show ends on Saturday, January 27.