Next Stage Theatre Company
Dir. Ann Garner

As part of their 20 year anniversary the ever impressive Next Stage Theatre Company has taken on the trilogy of plays by Alan Ayckbourn that charts the progress and consequences of the central character, Norman and his hapless philandering over a July weekend.

Round and Round the Garden is the final part of the jigsaw, which sees Norman and Annie about to embark on a “dirty weekend” which in all reality will never happen. The general middle class angst of being unable to discuss sex and the willingness to cover up important conversations with banal chatter ensures they all remain trapped in their respective situations.

Annie (Claire Rumball) cares for her bedridden mother, Norman (Richard Matthews) is intent on seducing any woman who will listen to him, he is morally empty and the women eventually see through this, leaving him alone with his fantasies in the garden.

Richard Matthews is excellent as Norman; he maintains the boyish charm with a great mix of arrogance. The ladies are out in strength Jane Lawson (Ruth), Caroline Groom (Sarah) both have the measure of the situation and their final vote of solidarity on the bench a forceful moment.

Tim Evans (Tom) and Andrew Ellison (Reg) bring together the two alternative options of masculinity and in Reg’s case, a henpecked man against whom Norman is being measured.

This is a good production, directed by Ann Garner with an excellent setting from Dan Colman. This is a great achievement for the company in its celebratory year and once again they fly the flag for amateur theatre in Bath.

Petra Schofield