Bedroom Farce, Ayckbourn's Comedy of Four Couples, Opens in NYC Oct. 13

News   Bedroom Farce, Ayckbourn's Comedy of Four Couples, Opens in NYC Oct. 13 While London critics are currently praising the new Old Vic revival of Alan Ayckbourn's The Norman Conquests, Off-Broadway's The Actors Company Theatre (TACT) has revived his Bedroom Farce, not seen in Manhattan in 30 years.
Bedroom Farce's Scott Schafer, Mark Alhadeff and Margaret Nichols
Bedroom Farce's Scott Schafer, Mark Alhadeff and Margaret Nichols Photo by Stephen Kunken

The comedy of middle class manners, featuring four married couples, opens Oct. 13 after previews from Oct. 5 at the Beckett Theatre, in the Theatre Row complex on West 42nd Street.

Per the TACT mission, which is to shine light on works that haven't been revived much in Manhattan, this is the first major New York City production since 1979, when it played on Broadway. It bowed in London in 1975.

Ayckbourn is the prolific British playwright who chronicles the foibles, passions and subtle ruefulness of middle-class English folk. Think House and Garden, Woman in Mind, Absurd Person Singular and A Chorus of Disapproval.

Jenn Thompson (who staged TACT's lauded spring revival of The Eccentricities of a Nightingale) directs a cast that includes Cynthia Harris, Larry Keith, Eve Bianco, Margaret Nichols, Scott Schafer, Ashley West, Mark Alhadeff and Sean Dougherty.

Performances continue to Nov. 8. Harris is a veteran of TV's "Mad About You" and was recently seen in the world premiere of Richard Greenberg's comedy The Injured Party at South Coast Rep. She is one of TACT's three artistic directors. Keith starred in Broadway's Caroline, or Change.

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According to TACT, "Written for the National Theatre in 1975, Alan Ayckbourn's dexterous and gloriously funny play about four couples in four very different stages of marriage gets its long awaited revival. Bedroom Farce marks a significant turning point in Alan Ayckbourn's writing career, bridging the broader style of his earlier work with the darker aspects of middle-class English life he would so successfully go on to explore. Known as the 'bard of the bourgeois,' Ayckbourn's ironically titled Bedroom Farce displays many aspects of his unique talent — comedy that relies on circumstance rather than one-liners, inventive use of physical space, and a refusal to sacrifice the realism of his characters and their relationships to one another for cheap laughs or neat candy-coated endings."

The play "examines the dysfunctional relationships of four couples over one chaotic Saturday night. Trevor and Susannah are on the verge of a break-up — and they're determined to take their friends and family down with them! After Trevor and his ex-girlfriend, Jan, are caught kissing at Malcolm and Kate's housewarming party, all hell breaks loose. Susannah flees to her in-laws who are trying to salvage their anniversary celebration; while Trevor pays a midnight visit to Jan's in order to explain his misdeeds to her husband, Nick. As the evening progresses, this unstable pair travels from bedroom to bedroom, raining hysterical havoc on everything they touch and assuring that no one will get any sleep."

Co-artistic director Scott Alan Evans (whose artistic partners are Harris and Simon Jones) stated, "With his extraordinary sense of the theatrical and his deft use of language, Ayckbourn has been on the top of our to-do list for a long time. We're thrilled to reintroduce New York audiences to this tremendously funny and touching play."

Ayckbourn's more than 70 plays include Relatively Speaking, Absurd Person Singular, Just Between Ourselves, A Chorus Of Disapproval, Woman In Mind, A Small Family Business, Man of the Moment, Things We Do For Love, Comic Potential and Private Fears in Public Places.

The design team includes Amir Khosrowpour (original music), Aaron Copp (lighting), Martha Hally (costumes), Stephen Kunken (sound) and Robin Vest (sets).

The performance schedule is Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 7:30 PM, Saturday at 2 & 8 PM, Sunday at 3 PM.

The Beckett Theatre is located at 410 West 42nd Street.

Tickets are $25-$56.25 and can be purchased at Ticket Central by phone (212) 279-4200 or online at www.tactnyc.org. For more information on this production or TACT, visit www.tactnyc.org.

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In spring 2009, TACT will present the World War II drama Incident at Vichy by Arthur Miller, directed by Evans, running Feb. 22-March 28, 2009 at The Beckett Theatre, Theatre Row.

TACT "is dedicated to presenting neglected or rarely produced plays of literary merit, with a focus on creating theatre from its essence: the text and the actor's ability to bring it to life. TACT's company of actors was drawn together in 1992 by a love of the literature of the theatre. Over the 15 seasons and more than 80 productions [most of them concert readings], it has grown to become a true repertory ensemble: a group that has developed a common vocabulary and a technique based on our artistic vision and collective body of work."

Cynthia Harris, Eve Bianco and Larry Keith
Cynthia Harris, Eve Bianco and Larry Keith