posterRound and Round the Garden by Alan Ayckbourn.


A gentle comedy makes a nice end to a hectic weekend and this Alan Ayckbourn story was perfect.

Although the storyline of romantic trysts and misunderstandings could have developed into a faster paced farce, the competent cast refused to let it run away with them.

Mark Burman, as the cheating Norman, was excellent and had an easy charisma which lit up the stage.

Will Chapman was also good as his sweet but less confident love rival Tom while Zoe Watkins was suitably jittery as Annie, their indecisive prey.

The story began with Norman planning a saucy weekend away with sister-in-law Annie. But it is scuppered when Norman shuns the carefully laid plans and turns up at Annie's with a suitcase.

Sarah (Elaine Elliott), the wife of Annie's brother Reg (Keith Cummings), senses something is going on and has a word with Annie, who soon changes her mind.

Norman gets drunk and makes a pass at Sarah before practically the entire cast end up in compromising positions with one another.

The only person left to enter the scene is Norman's wife Ruth (Suzanne McPherson), who puts it all down to her husband's houndlike enthusiasm for anyone who shows him the slightest interest.

McPherson slightly spoilt her lines in the static scenes by delivering them so deliberately they seemed a little over the top, but she was much better in the emotional and action sequences when she became more at ease.

The only other criticism which could be levelled at the delightful show was that much of the action took place on the floor or bench which was difficult to see for those of us in the rear rows, despite the Studio's slightly tiered seating.

Beverley Rouse, May 16, 2002