Now on stage in Toronto, Bedroom Farce is “a comforting blend of goofiness and sincerity”
I love a good farce—the awkward physicality, the slamming of doors and the silly predicaments. I also love the 70s—the Farrah Fawcett hair, the skintight bellbottoms and those bead curtains. Soulpepper’s production of Alan Ayckbourn’s Bedroom Farce has all of the above and is a lot of fun.
So, we open on 70s Britain—four couples, three bedrooms.
Kate (Katherine Gauthier) and Malcolm (Gordon Hecht) throw a housewarming party only to have it end disastrously when Trevor (Ron Pederson) and Susannah (Amy Matysio) cause a scene. At the same time, Nick (Alex McCooeye) is stuck in bed with a bad back while his wife Jan (Caitlin Driscoll) has an impulsive tryst with her ex, Trevor. Trevor’s mother and father, Delia (Corrine Koslo) and Ernest (Derek Boyes), get caught up in the drama when the distraught Susannah shows up in their bedroom to seek comfort. Meanwhile, poor Nick and Jan must console the oblivious yet overly self-reflective Trevor.
All this takes place in one evening through to the following morning. There’s a lot of jumping from bedroom to bedroom, where insecurities are revealed, tensions run high and nobody is getting the sleep they need to properly address their martial issues. But that’s what good comedy is all about: finding humour in our failure to deal with things.
It’s not as over the top as farce can be. I expected more goofball entrances and exits, but this play’s humour is more about character and situation than pratfalls. There is some mild physical comedy, mostly involving props. With his perfectly lanky body, Alex McCooeye has some spidery moments as he, bedridden, attempts complex maneuvers to avoid straining his injured back. There’s also some amusing business with a lopsided chest of drawers.
Given my fetish for the 70s aesthetic, it was great seeing rotary telephones, electric blankets and bean-bag chairs. Erika Connor’s costumes and Ken MacKenzie’s set capture the era and highlight its distinct charms without ever seeming too cartoonish. Ted Dykstra’s direction is, likewise, naturalistic with a gentle touch of whimsy and nostalgia.
My guest felt there were a handful of emotional transitions that could have been handled with more finesse. The actors, she noted, occasionally go from relative calm to shrieking hysteria without exploring the levels in between. The outbursts seemed natural to me, like the sudden and unexpected shattering of social façades—fragile yet quickly repaired.
This play is delightful, a comforting blend of goofiness and sincerity. There’s no mean streak here; the characters are likeable and, more importantly, seem to genuinely care about each other. The humour often comes from their attempts to maintain the most pleasant demeanours possible given the increasingly frustrating circumstances.
There’s nothing particularly insightful or challenging about this story, but it has solid, endearing characters. Soulpepper’s production is sturdy, stylish and has plenty of charm. My guest and I were transported to that warm, fuzzy place that stands as a hallmark of really good lighthearted comedy.
Sometimes, just seeing someone reach out to hold another person’s hand can restore your hope for the future.
- Bedroom Farce plays at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts (50 Tank House Lane) until June 20
- The show dates and times vary, please see the performance schedule for more detail.
- Tickets start at $29.50 and can be purchased online , or the box office at 416-866-8666 or visit in person.
Photo of Gordon Hecht, Katherine Gauthier, Amy Matysio & Ron Pederson by Cylla von Tiedemann.