audiences are due to meet Celia, Toby, Lionel, Sylvie and Miles at
least three times more during 2013 as Ayckbourn's Intimate
Exchanges unravels two marriages, two putative love affairs
and a whole raft of misunderstandings and back-tracking before their eyes.
Events on a Hotel Terrace is the first of these
(you'll have to track down Talking Scarlet's A Cricket
Match if you want the fifth in the eight-play sequence).
Herford knows just how to pace Ayckbourn and he is fortunate in his
two players. Ruth Gibson plays fragile headmaster's wife Celia, just
about at the end of her tether as far as her marriage is concerned.
Gwynfor Jones is whisky-addicted Toby, who's more or less given up
on running his school, never really bothered to understand his wife –
let alone modern society – and just wants to be left alone.
boil over just as she's forced to make decisions about the garden by
school caretaker-cum-groundsman Lionel (Jones). Lionel has ambitions,
though not much sense, and these apparently don't include home-help
Sylvie (Gibson). As with so much Ayckbourn, there's a very fine line
drawn between the credible and the preposterous; Michael Holt's
semi-naturalistic set and quick-change costumes echo this properly.
You can sympathise with
Gibson's Celia as she tries to juggle social and personal priorities,
and also with young Sylvie – who knows what she wants but goes
about getting it altogether in the wrong way. Jones contrasts Toby (a
fine example of male chauvinist piggery) with aspirational
over-the-top Lionel to comic effect and, in the last scene,
introduces us to Miles – the businessman chair of the school's
board of governors. It definitely leaves the audience wanting to see
what will happen next.