with video: A2CT's new show is a 'Bedroom Farce'
Photo by Mark Stein.
“The director who proposed the show had to move to L.A.,” said Paul Bianchi. “He was only here in Ann Arbor temporarily, and he and his wife ended up going back early. So Civic sent a notice to the director email list that they needed a director. I made a proposal, and they chose me to direct it.”
The wildly prolific Alan Ayckbourn—who’s written and produced more than 70 full-length plays, including “The Norman Conquests” trilogy and “House and Garden”—first unveiled “Bedroom Farce” in 1975.Set in that time, in London, “Farce” follows one night in the lives of four couples: Delia and Ernest, an older pair celebrating an anniversary; Malcolm and Kate, a young couple hosting a housewarming party; Jan and Nick, an unhappy pair who, when Nick hurts his back, spend the evening apart; and Susannah and Trevor, who turn everyone else’s night upside down when, after an argument, Susannah finds Trevor kissing his old girlfriend, Jan.
“Susannah seeks marital advice from Trevor’s mother (Delia),” explained Bianchi. “And Trevor tries to set circumstances right.”
But with all this romantic discontent at the heart of “Bedroom Farce,” you might wonder if Ayckbourn is ultimately cynical about love.
“Not at all,” said Bianchi. “ There’s still overall a positive message that we’re all human, and that marriage is something you have to work at.”
In addition to assuming directing duties, Bianchi has also had to design the set for “Bedroom Farce”—which has proved challenging, to say the least, since the play requires three bedrooms, and the Arthur Miller Theatre has a thrust stage.
“The thrust isn’t big enough for three bedrooms,” said Bianchi, who also explored the possibility of doing the show in-the-round. “ It’s like, 24 feet by 24 feet. But we ended up putting one bedroom downstage, one at midstage, and one on the proscenium.”
Of course, the key to farce is timing, so Bianchi has tried to focus most of his attention on that while working with a cast of actors who are mostly new to A2CT.
“It jumps from bedroom to bedroom, with no blackouts - it’s all crossfading,” said Bianchi. “One thing I did that was different than before was, the first week, we read the play and talked about it. We did that for four or five rehearsals, just so the actors could hear the flow of the play, and to reinforce that jump-jump-jump feeling, and talk about the characters and the stakes. That was our base coat.
“ What I’m emphasizing now is tightening up everything, and taking the air out of it. I couldn’t ask for a better cast. I’m excited for audiences to see them.”
Here's a short video about the show.