The stage was set up as a London flat in the 1960’s, complete with clothes lines and posters of bands like The Who and the Rolling Stones. There was a small bed in the middle of the set, and as patrons took their seats, and the lights slowly dim, a telephone rings loudly. A man emerged from the bed to answer the phone, and so began the Western Gold Theatre production of British playwright Alan Ayckbourn’s Relatively Speaking.
Originally premiering in 1965 in England, Relatively Speaking recently took the stage at the PAL Studio Theatre in Coal Harbour. The play written almost 50 years ago, but it was as entertaining and relevant as any modern day production. The first scene in the flat establishes the new relationship between Greg (the man who emerged from the bed, played by Jay Hindle) and Ginny (Stacie Steadman). Greg is slightly suspicious of Ginny’s fidelity, as he questions where the copious amounts of flowers in their apartment are coming from. To make matters worse, he finds a pair of men’s slippers under the bed. But smart Ginny finds an excuse for everything, and gullible Greg believes her, and she supposedly takes off to visit her parents’ place for a few days. As she takes off, Greg decides to follow her to attempt to ask her father for her hand in marriage.
The lights dimmed, and as the actors changed the set, it is hard not to notice the details of the set design by Glenn MacDonald. The second scene based in The Willows – a wealthier area than Ginny and Greg’s – was set in an outdoor patio, complete with birds chirping and a water fountain. This scene introduces Philip (Terence Kelly) and Sheila (Anna Hagan), whom Greg assumes are Ginny’s parents through a series of comedic misunderstandings. In reality, Philip is Ginny’s secret lover. Will Greg find out the truth? What about Sheila?
The humour and charming British accents in Relatively Speaking bring a timeless piece to a cozy local stage (and provides indoor entertainment for any rainy Vancouver evening!). Directed by Anthony Ingram, Relatively Speaking is on until December 1 at the PAL Studio Theatre at 581 Cardero Street. For information and tickets, visit Western Gold Theatre.
Image: Wendy D Photography