Accurately reflecting the spirit of the times, he catches the period when pre-marital sex had started to become acceptable fun rather than a prelude to marriage. Still, it must have been something of a shock when it first hit the West End in 1967 and a naked young man, Greg, (admittedly with a strategically wrapped sheet and a bunch of flowers) got out of the single bed he’d obviously been sharing with dolly bird Ginny.
It’s early Sunday morning and she’s dashing off to catch a train to visit her parents in Buckinghamshire – or so she says. But on the spur of the moment, after just a month together and despite the pair of men’s slippers lurking beneath her bed, he decides he wants to marry her –– and follows her to suburbia to get an answer.
What ensues is a masterfully constructed farce of conversations at cross purpose and muddled identities as Greg mistakes Sheila (wife of Philip, Ginny’s much older lover) for her mother, Philip assumes Greg is having an affair with Sheila, and (much to the late-arriving Ginny’s consternation) English politesse sees him invited to stay for lunch.
There are lots of laughs but there’s also more than a tinge of the darkness so evident in Ayckbourn’s later plays when Jonathan Coy’s blustering, philandering Philip berates Felicity Kendall’s hurt, housewifely Sheila. And there’s good work too from Max Bennett and Kara Tointon as the younger couple whose future relationship may well turn out as wretched as that of their middle-aged hosts.
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Photo: Nobby Clark