Saturday, 6 August 2016

It's years since I last saw an Ayckbourn play. Quite a few during the 80s, but I think the last one I saw was his brilliant House and Garden at the National c1999 - when two plays were performed simultaneously in two theatres and the same cast sprinted between them. It was a masterpiece of comic timing, one of the cleverest things I've ever seen.

I suppose Ayckbourn isn't exactly fashionable.

But I'd forgotten how funny he is, even if this 1960s comedy is showing its age. (Won't be long before they need programme notes to explain the old-fashioned landlines!)

And that comic timing is still brilliant.There's one hilarious scene with a couple swivelling between two dinner parties.The theatre was packed; the audience tonight was mostly old enough to remember it first time round. Old enough to remember when avocados were alarmingly exotic, rather than smashed on sourdough toast and Instagrammed to a world that needs to know what you had for breakfast.

I'd been complaining to Darlene a couple of days ago that I hadn't been to the theatre in months, then I pulled myself together and made some last-minute bookings. It was only later that I realised that I'd let myself in for two consecutive nights of intrigue and adultery ...

Affairs that in one play are managed by cellphone,  while the Ayckbourn characters get into tangles on GPO-issue Bakelite. (The man in the row behind me at the Ayckbourn play was a phone buff who was able to list the complete 1969 range of two-tone colours.... Saffron, anybody? Just be glad you're not married to him.)

The Truth was sharper, more cynical, French ... and probably even funnier than the Ayckbourn.

On a roll, I have booked - months in advance, but it's bound to sell out - to see Anne-Marie Duff in a new play at the Almeida where the £10 restricted view seats are usually fine.

And I've one more show to see this weekend. With my two favourite 10-year-old theatre-going companions ... We've heard that the audience is protected by bullet-proof glass. But if the bangs and explosions are loud enough, it'll be 5* reviews from us.

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