“Marriage is a fine institution, but I’m not ready for an institution” – Mae West
According to the Little Theatre Guild of Great Britain, Alan Ayckbourn is the playwright most beloved of amateur actors. You can bet that at least one of his 75 plays will be playing somewhere in a city theatre or provincial playhouse every night of the year. Translated into 35 languages, perhaps British humour might actually be everyone’s cup of tea after all.
Every writer – great or wishing to be so – siphons inspiration from his or her predecessors. Ayckbourn’s source lies within another fine English playwright – the late JB Priestley.
Plenty of us will be familiar with Priestley’s recently revived drama, An Inspector Calls. Priestley was the first of his era to experiment with time – a trick often used to deliver a pleasant, if sometimes confusing surprise to an audience. His determination to reveal the conceit and hypocrisy of middle class society inspired a generation of whimsical comedy writers – plus a few unexpected film directors too. Who’d have thought Quentin Tarantino would be a fan?
And so, ever-eager to offer audiences an evening of good humoured entertainment, the Cotswold Players will be performing one of Priestley’s lesser known plays, When We Are Married later this month.
Variously described – by its exceptionally strong cast – as “a light-hearted romp”, “marriage : Yorkshire-style” and rather curiously, “a metaphysical social comment”, it’s the story of respectable middle class Yorkshire gentry, as they come to realise that their genteel existence is false and superficial, covering up the ridiculousness of their souls beneath. Squabbles, lies, drunkenness and pompous outbursts, all played with great wit and style make for a delightfully funny evening.
Claire Howard, with characteristic gusto plays Lottie, a gossipy minx, determined to claim the prize, whilst rising stars Mayble Pitt and Gerard Moore can – once again – barely disguise their ardour. Celia Stringfellow adds a charming lightness, whilst Peter Cluer as local newspaper photographer exposes the shambles, forcing out the truth until every last secret is revealed.
They’re joined by Carolyn Dolan, Julie Bignell, Huvin Thompson, Lloyd Morgans, Jenny Smith, Ken Allinson, Maria Hunter and Dave Kilmister.
When We Are Married, directed by Joy Roselli: 19th – 23rd June 7.30 pm
Tickets priced at £11 are available from the Tourist Information Office – 01453 760960