Fringe Box



Stage Dragon Review: Ten Times Table At The Yvonne Arnaud

Published on: 26 Nov, 2019
Updated on: 26 Nov, 2019

By Tricia Marcotti

Alan Ayckbourn’s hilarious comedy, Ten Times Table, has come to the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford this week.

Written in 1976 and first performed in 1977, the play stands the test of time, as relevant today as it was in the 1970s.

As I watched the performance, I took the time to look around at my fellow audience to see whether they were enjoying the production as much as I and my companion were.

Every head I could see was firmly pointed in the direction of the stage so as not to miss a moment of the action. I could hear their laughter echoing around the auditorium.

The meeting is in full flow in Ten Times Table at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre. Photo Pamela Raith.

The play takes place in one room in a Scarborough hotel over several days. The set is designed to allow the both actors and stagehands to come and go without running into each other.

It looked a little tired as it is portraying a hotel which has seen better days. I know, I’ve been in a number of hotels which this set could have been modelled on!

It is not a political play but there are references to 1970s politics both in speech and dress.

Our leading lady, Deborah Grant, playing the part of Helen, dressed and spoke like Margaret Thatcher. Her husband Ray, played by Robert Daws, was also well spoken and dressed accordingly.

There is even a local councillor, Donald, played by Mark Curry, presented us with a stereotypical view of what being a councillor means to the average person.

The local businessman, Laurence, played by Robert Duncan, managed to be drunk for the whole play. Now that is no mean feat!

Ray and Donald discuss a point of procedure in Ten Times Table at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre. Photo Pamela Raith.

The working class was represented by a teacher, Eric, portrayed by Craig Gazey. No suits and ties for him, but he did have the charisma to draw other people to his side!

His girlfriend, Phillippa, by Rhiannon Handy, and her friend, Sophie, by Gemma Oaten, both teachers at the same school as Eric, joined his side when the lines were drawn!

I thought as the play opened that this will be a respectable light comedy, with laughs provided by circumstance and set pieces, but as the play developed, it became more of an “us and them” scenario.

This opened up the play to more hilarity than I thought possible. I could not decide which side I wanted to win, and kept flipping from one side to the other throughout.

Now if jokes were not enough, we were also given a piano recital by Audrey (Elizabeth Power), the councillor‘s mother, who “tinkled the ivories” very competently.

The members attired for the festival in Ten Times Tables at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre. Photo Pamela Raith.

In my judgement, you’d be missing a great night out if you don’t see this play.

Ten Times Table is on until Saturday, November 30. For tickets, either call the box office on 01483 440000 or go online at The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.#


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