FARCE is a very useful and adaptable word.

It can mean a comic play, full of saucy shenanigans and ludicrously improbable situations.

Or, in its wider sense, it can be applied to any situation that’s absurd or shambolic. Hmmm …

A brilliant example of the former can currently be seen at the Playhouse.

Alan Ayckbourn’s sixties classic Relatively Speaking is a blockbusting opener to the autumn season that had Friday night’s packed audience in stitches.

I can’t recommend it highly enough if you want to put the other kind of farce – the one that’s engulfing our political system – behind you for a few hours and lose yourself in laughter.

If you’re lucky, you won’t even get home in time for the inevitably grim News At Ten!

All four cast members were having a whale of a time. I was particularly taken with Tim McMullan’s facial expressions as Philip, the errant husband who finally gets caught out.

The set was cleverly designed, with a lovers’ bed in the first scene ingeniously turning into a garden pond, complete with fountain, for the second.

Setting the play ‘in the round’ was an interesting idea. I did wonder if I was going to miss a lot by being seated where the stage would normally be, opposite the majority of the audience. But the cast were perfectly up to the task of keeping us all in on the action.

If ever we needed a healing dose of escapism, this is the time, and this production provides it.

Our ruling class, meanwhile, like philandering hubby Philip, digs itself ever deeper into a mire of its own making, one that threatens to suck all of us down with it like those mudbanks on Saving Lives At Sea, a TV series that has me hooked. What true heroes our lifeboat crews are.

Few heroes on the national stage at present, and plenty of saucy shenanigans - something our Prime Minister might choose as his specialist subject if only he were bright enough to take part in Mastermind.

To err is of course inevitable as a human, and I’m not saying I’m perfect – far from it - but if I aspired to occupy No.10 I would at least expect to have to set the rest of the nation an example of trustworthiness.

The parliamentary drama playing out on our screens seems more unbelievable at times than the twists and turns of Ayckbourn’s plot.

Sadly, the only humour it provokes is the gallows variety, born of appalled incredulity, and I fear it will all end in tears – yours, mine, everybody’s.

Even if we’re eventually given a second referendum masquerading as a general election, there can’t really be any winners.

Too much damage has been done now, both to our economy and to our system of government by consent.