Relatively Speaking - a classic piece of Ayckbourn

Robert Powell, Lisa Goddard, Lindsey Campbell and Antony Eden in Relatively Speaking
Robert Powell, Lisa Goddard, Lindsey Campbell and Antony Eden in Relatively Speaking

Alan Ayckbourn’s first West End hit, Relatively Speaking, arrives on tour at the Lyceum Theatre next week starring TV stalwarts Robert Powell and Liza Goddard.

We meet Greg, played by Antony Eden, and Ginny (Lindsey Campbell) who have only been together a month but he has already made up his mind that she’s the girl for him. When she tells him that she’s going to visit her parents, he decides this is the moment to ask her father for his daughter’s hand.

Discovering a scribbled address, he follows her to Buckinghamshire where he finds Philip and Sheila enjoying a peaceful Sunday morning breakfast in the garden.

What he does not realise, however, is that the older couple are not Ginny’s parents and in typical Ayckbourn style the whole thing quickly spirals into a chaos of misunderstanding, deception and comic confusion.

As Philip, Robert Powell returns to the Lyceum following his recent performance in King Charles III.  The Mancunian first made his name on pioneering BBC science fiction series Doomwatch in 1970, becoming something of a hearthrob in the process which he consolidated in the title roles of the Ken Russell biopic Mahler and Franco Zefferelli’s Jesus of Nazareth.

His extensive stage career includes roles in Alan Bennett’s Single Spies and Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell. 

Familiar to TV viewers from Doctor Who and Bergerac, plus guest appearances in the likes of Wild West, and Midsomer Murders, Liza Goddard is an old hand at Ayckbourn having been in If I Were You, Life Of Riley, Communicating Doors, Snake In The Grass and Life & Beth at the writer’s spiritual home, the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough.

First performed in 1967, Relatively Speaking, hailed as beautifully crafted, wonderfully funny and charmingly English, is the play that launched Ayckbourn into becoming a household name and one of the most prolific writers in British theatre history.

2016 marks his 55th year as a theatre director and his 57th as a playwright. To date he has written 80 plays and his work has been translated into over 35 languages. Among his other best known plays are How the Other Half Loves, Absurd Person Singular, Bedroom Farce, A Chorus of Disapproval and The Norman Conquests.

The new production is directed by Robin Herford whose numerous credits include Ayckbourn’s Bedroom Farce and Season’s Greetings, along with the enduring stage adaptation of The Woman in Black which has now celebrated 25 years in the West End and been seen by over seven million people. 

Alan Ayckbourn will unveil a new play in December at the Stephen Joseph. No Knowing, consisting of two one act plays - Knowing Him and Knowing Her – in which a couple on their 40th wedding anniversary talk revealingly about their marriage, lives and feelings.

Relatively Speaking is at the Lyceum Theatre from Monday to Saturday.  Sheffield Theatres