|L-R: Sarah Stanley, Kim Wall, Bill Champion, and Elizabeth Boag in FARCICALS: A DOUBLE BILL OF FRIVOLOUS COMEDIES. Photo by Andrew Higgens.|
The Ayckbourn Ensemble is a wonderfully talented company of actors currently taking New York by storm, performing three of Alan Ayckbourn’s plays in repertory at 59E59 Theaters on East 59th Street in midtown Manhattan as part of that theatre’s annual Brits Off Broadway program. The first of the three, Arrivals & Departures, opened last week and we loved it, as we expressed in our review of June 5. Last night, the second of the three, Farcicals: A Double Bill of Frivolous Comedies, opened as well and, while strikingly different from Arrivals & Departures, it was even more fun.
Farcicals: A Double Bill of Frivolous Comedies consists of two one-act comedies, Chloe With Love and The Kidderminster Affair, featuring the same four characters: Penny Bottlecamp (Elizabeth Boag), her husband, Reggie Bottllecamp (Kim Wall), her friend and neighbor, Lottie Bulbin (Sarah Stanley), and Lottie’s husband, Teddy Bulbin (Bill Champion). Ms Boag, Mr. Wall and Mr. Champion were terrific as the stars of Arrivals& Departures and Ms Stanley played several important supporting roles in that play. In Chloe With Love and The Kidderminster Affair, all four are equally outstanding, providing comedic performances that will keep you laughing for nigh on two hours.
Chloe With Love takes place in the Bottlecamp’s garden on a warm summer evening while all of the action in The Kidderminster Affair occurs in the Bulbin’s very similar garden on another warm summer evening. Both plays are slapstick farces and the plots of both revolve around Lottie’s suspicions of her husband’s infidelity. The ways in which the two plays then evolve and their ultimate outcomes are strikingly different, but they both are rollickingly funny and deliciously insightful in their depictions of those fundamental psychological differences between men and women that remain at the root of the battle between the sexes.