Relatively Speaking: World Premiere ReviewsThis page contains reviews of the world premiere production of Alan Ayckbourn's Relatively Speaking (then titled: Meet My Father) at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, in July 1965. It is not a complete set of reviews as the aim of the page is to offer a flavour of how the play was originally received and to offer a cross-section of opinion. All reviews on this page are the copyright of the respective publication and / or author and should not be reproduced. Extracts from reviews of the original West End production of Relatively Speaking can be found here.
Brilliant Dialogue In An Ayckbourn Farce
Alan Ayckbourn’s new play Meet My Father [later retitled Relatively Speaking] was premiered at Scarborough's Theatre In the Round last night, and this talented young playwright has turned out a feather-light farce which should keep audiences happy for a very long time.
The plot, as with most farces, is thin, and a situation of dramatic irony and misunderstandings is exploited until the tenseness [sic] of a stretched elastic band is reached. But it is with the dialogue that Alan Ayckbourn displays his master hand. At times he is brilliant, and his brittle wit shimmers through the production.
Only on odd occasions does he descend to tediousness, and then one is left wondering whether this is in fact the fault of the author or producer.
Certainly the very end of the play needs tightening up, as the last few moments drop to an uncertain anti-climax.
Meet My Father must be a difficult play to perform as most of the laugh lines depend entirely on timing. And it is a great tribute to the entire cast and producer Stephen Joseph that this came off without a hitch.
Briefly, the story concerns a young man who expectedly turns up at the home of a middle-aged couple he mistakenly believes to be his girl friend’s parents.
As the middle-aged wife, Catherine Naish is hilarious. Her flapping gestures and facial expressions are a joy.
David Jarrett takes the part of her husband and handles the role with confidence. And Peter King, acting the young man, is completely at home in the part. His comedy touch is deft and rarely fails.
The fourth member of the cast is Joanna Tope - the girlfriend - and she turns in another good performance.
The theme from the spy thriller theme The Ipcress Files is used as incidental music. This is an appropriate choice, but one wonders if the opening of the play, a skit on the beginning of the film, is really suitable.
Three plays* by Alan Ayckbourn have already been performed at the Library Theatre, as regular in-the-round theatregoers will know. And the playwright himself is no stranger to Scarborough. For several years he worked with the company as stage manager, actor, and producer, and he now directs plays for radio at the BBC Leeds Studios.
(Unknown publication, 9 July 1965)
*By 1965, Alan had actually had five plays produced at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, not including revivals.
Relationships Mix-Up In New Comedy
Alan Ayckbourn, actor, director and playwright, who for several years worked with Theatre-In-The-Round at Scarborough, and is now directing for the BBC at their Leeds studios, has written his fifth** play, Meet My Father, which was given its premiere at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, last week.
In this new play, Mr Ayckbourn has woven round a very simple plot a complex mix-up of relationships, love affairs, and misunderstandings for a cast of four, with some very amusing comedy.
It is played in two scenes, the first the living room of a London flat and the second a suburban garden. Two young people after fencing with each other about their respective pasts decide to get married, and it is when the young man goes on his own to meet a man the girl has described as her father to ask for permission to marry his daughter, that the complications and misunderstandings arise and have to be explained away.
Peter King as the young lover has a likeable personality, and engaging smile, and a way with him in handling every situation which arises: an easy relaxed performance. His girlfriend, Joanna Tope, is a seductive schemer. David Jarrett is the plausible and explosive elderly ‘father’ with much to hide and explain away, and Catherine Naish, his feather-brained wife whose conversational inanities smother much that she does not wish to go into very deeply.
The play is adroitly directed by Stephen Joseph.
(The Stage, 15 July 1965)
**Relatively Speaking [Meet My Father] is considered to be Alan Ayckbourn's 7th full-length play.
All reviews are copyright of the respective publication.