The Actors Company Theatre presents a first-rate revival of Alan Ayckbourn's 1975 marital comedy.
The four married couples depicted in the three bedrooms that Robin Vest has cleverly juxtaposed on the stage may be plunged into individual and suddenly overlapping problems. But while they are, director Jenn Thompson and her acting octet are having a high old time slapping those conflicts into stinging, ringing life.
The thing to keep in mind about Ayckbourn's plays is that they're billed as comedies, but they are comedies very much in the sense that Anton Chekhov called his works comedies. In the midst of the play's humor, Ayckbourn pointedly acknowledges his characters' psychological suffering as well as innumerable other nagging human foibles
The set-up is that long-time marrieds Delia (Cynthia Harris) and Ernest (Larry Keith) are dressing for an anniversary dinner, as son Trevor (Mark Alhadeff) and wife Susannah (Eve Bianco) are about to inflict their intramural strife on a house-warming party thrown by their usually tolerant friends Malcolm (Sean Dougherty) and Kate (Ashley West). Also expected among the latter event's 50 guests is Trevor's former main squeeze and still sympathetic ally, Jan (Margaret Nichols). Not expected is Jan's hubby Nick (Scott Shafer), who's confined to bed with an out-of-whack back and a mounting grudge against Trevor.
Unable to keep their misunderstandings to themselves through the wee hours, Trevor and Susannah singly or in tandem disturb the relative peace the others enjoy. Which is not to say the others are totally serene. For example, Malcolm is riled when Kate innocently admits there are times during sex when her mind wanders to other things. Significantly, Delia and Ernest are the least imperiled. Their biggest wrinkle is the fishy smell pervading their bedroom after they've had a late night snack. The implication here is that the longer a couple remains together, the fewer the besetting contretemps.