REVIEW: Mixed Doubles, Library Theatre

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New Venture Players presented short scenes of married life by different writers plus whimsical and occasionally off the wall monologues by Michael Bullock.

Bullock’s opening sketch featuring a vicar’s marital address is the funniest. There is plenty of implied innuendo, which morphs into innocence following a sustained pause. In Beckhamesque fashion the couples’ babies are named after parks in which they are conceived.

Bullock also acts. He and his wife, Kath Kenyon, go through four scenes encompassing argumentative tennis, a touching romance, hilarious misunderstandings and discussions of mortality.

Bullock and Kenyon are so comfortable together they really convince you they are married. In Brook’s tennis scene Kenyon tries to calm his irate husband, Bullock who is wildly hitting (imaginary) balls into the audience.

A nice shift down in gear has them fondly reminiscing, albeit differently, how they first met in Pinter’s scene. Although Ayckbourn’s turn is very low key, the couple’s continual miscommunication is very, very funny. Lastly, Campton’s subject matter is morbid but the daily mundanity of shoes and kippers keeps it chipper.

The younger husband and wife combination, Nathan McNicholas and Jo Hadjioannou have the harder job in a way. Their material is slower burning and more pensive and philosophical. There is adultery, mistrust and marriage for tradition’s sake. The pick however is Saunder’s opener with McNicholas the jittery newly-wed with Hadjioannou trying to reassure him. Painfully recognisable for couples everywhere too is the fruitless circular conversation in Bowen’s The Anniversary, which had me frustrated on the youngsters’ behalf.

Stephen Grigg