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A Comedy By Alan Ayckbourn

Cope Auditorium, 21st-24th February 2007

 Directed by Sue Vickers and Chris Marlow

A Comedy of Roles

Alan Ayckbourn's Role Play performed by the Falcon Players at the Cope Auditorium last week was his 60th play. 60!! Where does he get all his ideas from and more imporatant, how does he manage to keep the comedy fresh but with a contemporary cutting edge?

Role Play was about a group of people thrown together by circumstance (though escaping with only a scraped knee after falling from a penthouse balcony was stretching it), who had seemingly been allotted their parts in life. The complacent boyfriend, the eager fiance, abused partner and so on. Under the directorship of Sue Vickers and Chris Marlow the characters defined their roles before deciding whether to stay inside or break the mould that had been assigned.

The play opened by examining the relationship of the engaged couple, Justin Lazonby (Alan Whiteland) and Julie Dobson (Rachel Fitzpatrick). Rachel's portayal of her character seemed the more convincing. The bust up over a fork (a chillingly accurate observation), her honeymoon fantasy and the way she fitted into her parent's lifestyle sent out warning signs that Justin began to heed later. Alan played Justin as quietly pragmatic - sex, or the lack of it was top of his agenda - but I couldn't quite believe he would escape the marriage trap via a pole dancer!

Yvonne Marshall's Page Petitie was a gem of a part and Yvonne clearly enjoyed its possibilities. Underneath her coarse language was some sharp social comment; we grew to like her and care about what happened to her. Her minder, Micky Rale (Graham Holmes) had shades of Authur Mullard (remember him?) in his speech. Graham was very funny - unchanging facial expressions and only room for one very small idea at a time in his tiny mind.

The in-laws, Kathy Phillips as Justin's drunken mum and Jenny Hargreaves and Steve Shipton as the Jobsons explained and exposed their charcters' weaknesses, though Kathy delivered some divine one liners in her sozzled state. The Jobsons were the in-laws from hell, bigotted reflections of each other, unable to let their children go - we all laughed at them but felt the keeness of the social comment too.

At the finish some escaped their roles and others, like the Jobsons, couldn't or wouldn't. Thanks to the cast this comedy left the audience smiling but also with much to ponder, not least the truism that if you want to know what your husband / wife will be like in 30 years, look at the father / mother-in-law now!!

Roy Jones, Loughborough Echo