IF YOU were to judge Alan Ayckborn’s latest play, The Life of Riley, on the basis of whether it was a successful gentle and slightly dark comedy or not, I think it would do quite well.
It makes you laugh a fair bit, the dialogue is good and the acting is very sharp too.
However there are no surprising plot twists, while the setting and characters are about as middle class as you could dream up.
There is a farmer, a doctor and a nouveau riche businessman, plus their wives, who populate a quiet and well to do village.
The play focuses on the couples’ relationships which are thrown into chaos by the news that local teacher George Riley is dying.
You never see George on stage - it’s a clever device that Ayckbourn has employed before which serves to create the illusion that there is a world beyond the narrow confines of the stage.
Incredibly it is Ayckbourn’s 74th play in a career which began in 1956 - that’s more plays than Shakespeare.
The Life of Riley does have something to say - the message seems to be don’t take the people you love for granted and fight for the people you love.
Other themes are explored too such as the importance of friendship and the agony suffered when a partner is unfaithful.
If you are looking for a nice and gentle comedy to entertain you, I think you should enjoy this.
The Life of Riley is at Brighton Theatre Royal, Monday March 14 - Saturday March 19.
For tickets call 08448717650 or visit www.ambassadortickets.com/Theatre-Royal-Brighton.