Ayckbourn revival Relatively Speaking still 'brilliantly witty'

May 22, 2013

Felicity Kendal and Downton's Jonathon Coy shine in Ayckbourn's ingenious early comedy

What you need to know
A revival of Alan Ayckbourn's early comedy Relatively Speaking, starring Felicity Kendal, has opened at Wyndham's Theatre in London's West End.

Lindsay Posner directs Ayckbourn's 1965 play which revolves around a couple of new young lovers, Ginny and Greg. When Ginny goes to the country to visit her parents, besotted Greg decides to follow her and propose marriage. But Ginny's parents (Philip and Sheila) are not what they seem.

Kendal stars as Sheila and Jonathan Coy (Downton Abbey) is Philip. Max Bennett and Kara Tointon are Ginny and Greg. Until 31 August.

What the critics like
"This is a brilliantly witty comedy," says Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph. The confusion, panic and mistaken identity routines are an ingenious comic joy, but it's tinged with a touch of Ayckbourn's characteristic darkness.

Posner's witty production reveals the play's theatrical brilliance, says Michael Billington in The Guardian. Felicity Kendal and Jonathan Coy "are all the funnier for playing the situation for real".

"Relatively Speaking hands Felicity Kendal her giddiest stage assignment in years," says Matt Wolf on the Arts Desk. Lindsay Posner's staging is attuned to Ayckbourn's sure-footed craftsmanship, which still holds up after all these years.

What they don't like
This could be viewed as "a predictable West End light comedy for coach parties", says Libby Purves in The Times. There's nothing to trouble the intelligentsia or ruffle any feathers, but this deft - if dated - verbal farce is "enduringly funny".

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