Exchanges is one of those tricksy Ayckbourn offerings
where two actors play all the parts and there's a fistful of possible
outcomes, not to mention themes. A Cricket Match
presents us with two marriages heading for the rocks. Toby is a prep
school headmaster more given to the bottle than to the blackboard.
His wife Celia is suffering in modified silence.
Miles is the
businessman chair of the board of governors. He's dithering about
whether or not to support Toby, who is an old school friend, as well
as whether he prefers Celia to his rackety wife Rowena. Rowena
herself is a free spirit, quite content to let the men get on with it
– whatever that might be. Then there's the school groundsman, a man
who can wreck a cricket-pitch faster than a spin bowler. And Celia's
mother also drops by.
As with nearly every
other Ayckbourn play, the comedy is wrapped around some shrewd
analysis of male-female relationships, especially within wedlock.
Both Jenny Funnell and Stephen Beckett are seasoned Ayckbourn
actors and know precisely how to balance the mixture of wince and
laughs. Patric Kearns directs with a light touch, giving his
players room to build their gallery of characters. The World Awake
set transforms easily between the three locations and offers the
semi-realism which the play demands.