Relatively Speaking was Alan Ayckbourn's first West End success and, as such, is a straightforward comedy with none of the darker or experimental tones of his later work. There are no grounds for complaint though as it is a superbly structured tale of mistaken identities and tangled romantic liaisons. Jonathan Coy is excellent as the pompous oaf confornted with his mistress and her fiancee he mistakenly thinks is having an affair with his wife. She is brilliantly played by Felicity Kendall who amazingly is appearing in her first Ayckbourn since the original Norman Conquests. She starts out in budding Marcia Warren mode as a rather dotty lady but it is a joy to watch her comic timing as the truth slowly dawns and she is rewarded with a killer final line. Kara Tointon makes her entrance in just a towel but that is the highlight of her performance. She is saddled with a terrible Mary Quant style wig and an indeterminate accent (as is Max Bennett) but has added a habit of over-emphasising her facial expressions. I had thought Kara might become the new Felicity Kendall but this is a step back from her excellent performance in Absent Friends. No matter though because Relatively Speaking does not feel dated in any way apart from the costumes and Lindsay Posner has produced a revival which delivers two hours of brilliant comedy. - David Baxter
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