Comedy being the flip side of tragedy, it works best with a sting in its tail. Ron Aldridge – whose 2005 success It’s Never Too Late has been revived for this tour – is an experienced actor and director as well as playwright, so he’s provided some meaty parts for the actors as well as extremely witty dialogue and a succession of believable situations as well as characters.
The main focus is on Susan Shaw, 57 going on 58 and recently dumped by her husband Richard in favour of much younger, much prettier and much more sexy Lisa. Since falling pregnant and marrying at 18, Susan has been a good mother, a stay-at-home wife and the support of endless local good causes. We meet her at one of her committees, held as usual in her comfortable home. At least two of the three male team members have nursed a feeling for her over a considerable length of time; Peter and his fitness-instructor wife Linda are just very good friends.
It’s less a case of the worm turning than of the serpent uncoiling as Susan takes in the conflicting advice – not all of it entirely altruistic – proffered by her circle. In Ian Dickens’ production, the contrasts between what she is told to do, what she thinks she wants to do and what her circumstances actually allow her to do are well balanced. The audience laughs out loud at the daftness and the deviousness of some of the possibilities, but it also emphasises with the woman at the centre of the dilemma. You sense that comeuppance is in the air, but how? And when? And perhaps even where?
Both Joanna Van Gyseghem as Susan and Judy Buxton as Linda Bridges seize on all the opportunities their roles afford. The work-out sequences in the second scene are particularly funny and very well paced, if that’s the right word in the context. The last-act, as Susan celebrates her 58th birthday with a party, builds on this. Jeffrey Holland as Peter drops his clangers into the debates with just the right air of deliberation. Michael Shaw makes retired mathematician Thomas into a person with whom, as well as at whom, one can laugh. Philip York suggests long-held frustration as well as a timidity masked by his business persona and Ian Saynor crashes into the action as Richard Shaw with a fine mixture of arrogance and unhappiness.