The north west premiere of Alan Ayckbourn’s 67th production opened the Library Theatre’s autumn season.
In a departure from his usual format, Ayckbourn’s work, which only lasts 90 minutes, is played straight through without an interval. The humour is gently contemplative but its dark underbelly concerns the predicaments of lost souls who are at odds with the pressures of modern life. It’s not so much six characters in search of an author, more six people seeking an identity.
Chris Honer’s production benefits from Judith Croft’s superb black and silver, multi-level set. His fine acting ensemble never falters in this study of relationships, which exposes the loneliness of the characters whose lives occasionally intermingle at surface level.
Imogen Slaughter plays upper class Nicola, who is flat hunting before and after her relationship with ex-army officer Dan. Robert Perkins hits exactly the right note as the jolly wastrel who spends his days drinking away his shameful discharge from the army and making blustering attempts to enjoy a dalliance with Imogen from the dating agency.
There’s a nice cameo performance from Alice James as Imogen whilst Leigh Symonds is first rate as her slightly boring estate agent brother Stewart. Malcolm James also turns in a finely honed performance as Ambrose, the world weary barman.
However the best role of all is beautifully played by Olwen May as Stewart’s Bible reading colleague Charlotte, who leads a fascinating double life.
This thought provoking work is both entertaining but disturbing.