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A Game of Golf (Colchester)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Gwynfor Jones & Ruth Gibson
© Robert Day
Robin Herford's series of four out of eight of Ayckbourn's Intimate Exchanges culminates with this one.

Up to now, we've watched as Gwynfor Jones switches characters between socially inept Miles, drunken headmaster Toby and louche handyman Lionel with unflappable ease. Just as Ruth Gibson has transformed herself between frustrated wife and mother Celia, free-spirited Rowena (Miles' consort) and not-quite-as-dim-as-she-appears-to-be teenager Sylvie.

In this play she adds two grotesques to her character count. There Josephine, Celia's mother (with all the potential to be the proverbial mother-in-law from hell). And there's Irene, who sits as a school governor in between being mistress of the local links. If from time to time you feel you want to shake reality into both Celia and Rowena, then Irene will make you bak off smartly.

Gibson is good as all these women and, though Miles takes centre-stage more than Toby in this play, Jones matches her. By now Matthew Holt's sets and Adam P McCready's soundscape are old friends; it's like the signature tune for a favourite programme as the house lights go down and the Teesdales' sunlit terrace is once more revealed.

Those in the audience who've seen the previous productions can be distinguished by the delighted recognition with which they greet each sideways swipe in the dialogue. Newcomers, judging by the performance I saw, enjoy the clever plotting, give a wry shrug at what is familiar in the dialogue and situations – and just sit back and enjoy the whole thing. It all deserves to be revived. Soon.