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Conjugal Rites

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
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This play by Roger Hall apparently inspired a sit com twenty years ago. The trouble is this situation comedy is there is little situation and the comedy lines are few and far between.

On TV it is possible to switch from scene to scene without a hiatus in between. No matter how dull, it still only lasts half an hour, and it can be bearable as just the gap in your telly schedule giving you time to put on the kettle whilst waiting for Question time.

Sadly at the Courtyard Theatre there are long gaps between the scenes in order for set and costume changes (eight scenes in act one and nine in act two) - and the interval in the middle of the two hour show seems very late in arriving.

Alexandra Boyd as Gen and Gary Heron as Barry are a stereotypical bored middle-aged couple with two teenage children, about to celebrate their twenty first wedding anniversary - an event which appears to bore them both to the back teeth.

Although two experienced actors both with a body of fine work behind them, in this instance they give the impression that they met five minutes ago and probably rehearsed over the telephone. There wasn’t a trace of rapport between them except near the end of act one when they had a pillow fight.

Set entirely in the couple’s bedroom - very pleasantly created by Merlin Daly – the whole thing has a feeling of déjà vue, and it seems to have its place not even in the 80s, but 20 years earlier in the 60s when Richard Waring was writing very similar stuff for television. It may have been more suitable to play it as a period piece rather than rely on the few attempts by director Andrew Keates to bring it up to date.

- Aline Waites


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