Devonshire Park Theatre, 23 July – 8 August 2015
Eastbourne Theatres’ in-house production of Alan Ayckbourn’s Round and Round the Garden played to a full house last night, and was a huge success. Directed by Chris Jordan, with a sumptuous set designed and built by Andy Newell and Paul Debreczeny, costumes by Shelley Claridge and lighting by Douglas Morgan, the Eastbourne Theatres creative team have pulled out all the stops for this summer spectacular.
Set in the garden of a Sussex country house in July 1974, it brings the sunshine inside the theatre at the Sunshine Coast. In this light and conservative middle-class comedy, the six actors bring their roles to life to the delight of the audience. Each distinctly different, the tangled lives and loves of Tom (David Partridge), Annie (Jo Castleton), Norman (Kevin Pallister), Sarah (Natasha Gray), and Ruth (Sarah Stanley) become ever more entwined on the lawns (and in the brambles) as they take their turns round and round the garden in this play, which is part of Ayckbourn’s The Norman Conquests trilogy.
If you saw Table Manners at the Devonshire Park last summer, make sure you don’t miss this year’s production of Round and Round the Garden: it tells the story of what was happening in the garden during the same weekend as the action of the first play. These two plays, and Living Together, are the intertwining stories of the same six characters over the course of a single weekend, though each stands alone equally well, and Round and Round the Garden can easily be watched without having seen either of the others.
Unfortunately, much of the humour and the plot was not really to my taste, but the packed audience loved it and it is sure to be a hit with Eastbourne locals and tourists alike.