Intriguing sets and immersive interaction at Salisbury Playhouse this autumn

Gareth Machin, left, and Tom Rogers unveil the in-the-round sets for two Alan Ayckbourn plays at the Playhouse

Gareth Machin, left, and Tom Rogers unveil the in-the-round sets for two Alan Ayckbourn plays at the Playhouse

First published in Entertainments
Last updated

SALISBURY Playhouse has unveiled its in-the-round sets for this autumn’s productions.

Alan Aykbourn’s Bedroom Farce will be performed in September and Separate Tables in November.

“The two plays are linked by loneliness,” says artistic director Gareth Machin.

“In Separate Tables, where the action is in a hotel, people stay there because they are going mad with loneliness and isolation.

“They are clinging to life in the hotel, which gives them the strength to keep on living. In Bedroom Farce, the four couples are lonely in their marriages.”

Eight actors will be employed for Bedroom Farce and 11 for Separate Tables and six of the actors will be in both plays.

Mr Machin said: “Our audiences really enjoy seeing the same actors in different plays. There’s a kind of familiarity that goes down well. This is very much what we do well – classic English comedy and drama.

“These two plays link together really interestingly and are both very funny and moving.”

Designer Tom Rogers has been putting together a set that will accommodate a complicated farce, with people coming and going, while having audience on four sides. For Bedroom Farce, the three bedrooms have been arranged to allow four exits.

Mr Rogers said: “I’ve had to go with conceptual walls so that people can see all the action from all sides, and had to think not only how the action will happen but how the audience will all be able to see what’s happening in any of the three bedrooms.

“Bedroom Farce is set in the 1970s, and one of the bedrooms is modern for the era, with pine furniture and brown colours. We have a piece of furniture in that room the couple have to put together, which then collapses on cue, which could be interesting.

“Another bedroom is old fashioned, with colours and pieces from the 50s and 60s and the other is so posh the bed doesn’t even touch the walls, and is all designer 70s.”

For Separate Tables some members of the crew are having to dress up too, to cope with the logistics of so many plates of food being brought in and out.

Once the four-week run of each play is over it will be back to the classic set-up at the Playhouse, for a couple of touring companies before the Christmas programme.

But for now, Mr Machin is looking forward to seeing his audience’s reaction to a different layout. He said: “People really like being very close to the action.”

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