Joking Apart at the New Vic gives an insightful view into the affects jealousy and envy can have on relationships.

Alan Ayckbourn’s revival marks the 40th anniversary of the play which centres around happy couple Richard (Laurence Pears) and Anthea (Frances Marshall).

Spanning over 12 years, and four different scenes, the audience is invited into the garden – complete with tennis court and a wooden pavilion fence – of Richard and Anthea who are blessed with good fortune both socially and personally.

Bonfire night 1966 is the opening scene where new neighbours – Vicar Hugh and wife Louise attempt to fit into the mould with the hilarious Sven and Olive – business partners of the hosts, and long term friend Brian.

As the years pass competition rises as, unbeknown to Richard and Anthea – their friends have their own opinions about the generosity which is shared. Conversations – which were once awkward amongst Hugh (Jamie Baughan), Louise (Louise Shuttleworth), Sven (Leigh Symonds), Olive (Liz Jadav) and Brian (Richard Stacey) – turn into gossip about their hosts as the green eyed monster rears its head.

The characters lives do unfold before the audience with the affects of how age and experiences change them, but some traits do remain.

Brian’s continuing failed relationships sees Naomi Peterson switching effortlessly from one girlfriend to the next, and Sven’s opinionated and competitive nature brings humour throughout delivered by the genius Leigh Symonds.

You cannot help but to relate to at least one, if not all of the characters in one way, or another, when they meet in the garden where the overall stage settings of Michael Holt’s design work fittingly well with Joking Apart.

Joking Apart is a comedy – there is humour, but their’s also a strong message here about relationships which must not be ignored!

Joking Apart is at the New Vic until October 27. See Baba’s What’s ON for more information.


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