Ayckbourn comedy Ten Times Table takes too long to get Sheffield Lyceum audience laughing

Part of the trouble with Alan Ayckbourn comedy Ten Times Table at the Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield is that it’s just too accurate a portrayal of boring committee meetings.

Thursday, 17th October 2019, 11:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 5:01 pm
The cast of Ten Times Table

It means that the first half is long, slow and dull, even with a good cast on stage, and the show never really gets going until later.

Robert Daws stars as Ray, who enthusiastically suggests to a committee that his town should have a pageant that’s a historic re-enactment of a group of 18th-century agricultural workers who rose up against their masters and were mercilessly put down.

His scheme soon falls foul of in-fighting as Marxist teacher Eric (Craig Gazey) sees a chance to grab the initiative and play the workers’ leader.

Ray’s wife Helen (Deborah Grant) is outraged and tries to rally the bosses’ side.

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The short second half is a riotous farce as ex-army officer Tim (Harry Gostelow) runs amok and mayhem ensues.

That’s all very enjoyable but the whole show is just too unbalanced, despite great characterisation from the actors, including Mark Curry as annoyingly pedantic Donald.

There are nice turns from Gemma Oaten and Rhiannon Handy as Eric’s lovers, Robert Duncan as drunk Laurence and Elizabeth Power as Audrey.

Ten Times Table is at the Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield until October 26. www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk