Diogene’s “Relatively Speaking” is Fun and Frothy

Review by Doug Iden of Relatively Speaking: Diogenes Theatre

Relatively Speaking opened at the Diogenes Theater and (relatively speaking) is a funny although somewhat dated show. Penned by Alan Ayckbourn, the British Neil Simon, this is a very British bedroom farce filled with confusion, mistaken identity and countless misunderstandings. Greg (portrayed by Patrick Phillips) and Ginny (played by Bailie Breaux) are living together under a cloud of secrets. Greg suspects that Ginny is cheating on him because of strange phone calls, gifts of flowers and candy and a pair of slippers under the bed which do not belong to him. He finds an address which Ginny says is her parent“™s home. Unbeknownst to Ginny, Greg visits the “œparents“ (played by Robert Pavlovich and Abby Rowold) and then the confusions escalate at a geometric proportion leading to a final surprise at the end. This is a plot where the audience is far smarter than the characters in the play and you want to shout at the actors to wake up and see what“™s happening.

Typical of a farce, there is a lot of over-acting with emphatic facial expressions and vocal histrionics. The men carry the show, especially Patrick Phillips as Greg who appears to be in a perpetual fog and seems oblivious of the deceit around him. The staging is simple but effective for the small Fifth Third Bank Theater in the Aronoff Center.

The ensemble cast is spearheaded by Director (and Producing Artistic Director of Cincinnati Shakespeare Company) Brian Isaac Phillips who moves the action along well and effectively choreographs the movements on and off the small stage area.  Most of the performers and support people are veterans of the Shakespeare Company.

The play is showing its age somewhat with major plot points surrounding illegitimacy and infidelity plus British humor which occasionally befuddles Americans.   The show also drags somewhat in the middle. However, overall, it is a fun, frothy romp through the foibles of gender relationships. See Relatively Speaking running at the Diogenes through November 22.

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