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Relatively Speaking (Frinton)

It was the play which brought Alan Ayckbourn to the attention of London audiences in 1967.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Relatively Speaking – it's all in the title. Young couple Ginny (Natasha Rickman) and Greg (Ben Kernow) are in the throes of a month-old love affair. He wants to commit permanently; she knows that marriage requires more than sexual compatibility (remember we are in the 60s).

Ginny has had affairs in the past, notably with her former boss Philip (Jonathan Rigby). He's still pursuing her and she has decided to confront him on his home turf – he's married, of course. What she tells Greg is that she's spending the day with her parents in the country. He just doesn't buy her excuses for not taking him along.

At The Willows, we meet Philip and his wife Sheila (Beth Tuckey). As Tuckey makes beautifully clear through this and the next two scenes is that this little-woman-at-home has a clearer vision than her husband has ever given her credit for. Rigby shows us the slightly callous edge to the successful entrepreneur from his first lines.

Greg's arrival spins the plot further. Then Ginny materialises. Always the perfect hostess, Sheila offers first sherry and then lunch to her uninvited guests. Each exchange twists the permutations of misunderstanding ever tighter; while Philip lapses into a sort of blackmail, Sheila works it all out.

Edward Max's production is firmly in period, as it should be. Lucy Archbould's sets – first Ginny's bed-sitter in London, then an extensive garden in rural Berkshire – use up all the available stage space, which isn't precisely expansive. It's a play which is more than just a rather brittle comedy of relationships and well worth a revival.

Relatively Speaking runs at the Frinton Summer theatre until 2 August.