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Theater review: 'Bedroom Farce' at Odyssey Theatre Ensemble

July 30, 2010 | 10:28 am

Img_4131 The rarified intellect of Alan Ayckbourn can overshadow this astoundingly prolific playwright's skill at old-school craft, but not in "Bedroom Farce." Ayckbourn's droll 1975 study of four couples in marital disarray turns on populist regard, which propels its assured Odyssey Theatre Ensemble mounting.

As designer Darcy Prevost's fine set indicates, "Bedroom Farce" unfolds across three boudoirs during one trying night.  It opens stage left, as mature pair Ernest (Robert Mandan) and Delia (Maggie Peach) trade domestic banalities while preparing for their anniversary night out.

Shifting stage right, we meet Jan (Ann Noble), former flame of Trevor, Ernest and Delia's son. Getting ready to attend a housewarming party sans bedridden husband Nick (Scott Roberts), whose back is out, Jan makes telling references to Trevor, and Ayckbourn starts accelerating his intricate plot.

Enter harried hosts Malcolm (Jamie Donovan) and Kate (Kate Hollinshead) center stage, and comic percolation is nigh. With the advent of amiably obtuse Trevor (Anthony Michael Jones), followed by Susannah (Regina Peluso), his monumentally neurasthenic wife, crosshatched lunacy ensues.

Director Ron Bottitta wisely keeps this soufflé in period, abetted by designers Kathi O'Donohue (lighting), Kathryn Poppen (costumes) and Bill Froggatt (sound).  His players form a first-rate ensemble, the odd dialect glitch or overstressed beat trivial when set beside such unified light-comic style.

The play remains middlebrow boulevard fare, albeit written by a master of his métier. On those accessible terms, though, "Bedroom Farce" is a satisfying romp and may leave you grinning even as you turn down your own sheets at home.

-- David C. Nichols

"Bedroom Farce," Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West L.A. 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. (plus, 8 p.m. Aug. 4  and 11, 7 p.m. Aug. 22 and Sept. 26). Ends Sept. 26. $25-$30 (310) 477-2055. Running time: 2 hours.

Photo: Robert Mandan and Maggie Peach. Credit: Ron Sossi.