BRIDGING the class division of 1950s England is the subject of Noël Coward’s comedy Relative Values.
The play, which opened at Brighton’s Theatre Royal last night (Monday, July 1), features a stellar cast, including Rory Bremnar in his first dramatic role, comedy favourite Caroline Quentin and theatre stalwart Patricia Hodge.
Relative Values explores the culture clash between the world of Hollywood and the English aristocracy through life in the Marshwood family seat.
The young Earl (Sam Hoare) announces he is to marry a Hollywood film actress (Katherine Kingsley), throwing the family into turmoil when they realise the actress is the sister of the Earl’s mother’s maid, Moxie (Caroline Quentin).
The Countess of Marchwood, played by Hodge, is convinced by her nephew (Steven Pacey) and butler (Bremner), to dress up Moxie as one of the family, ensuring hilarity ensues as all sense of social boundaries that normally constrain an aristocratic home are broken.
Considering it was his drama debut, Bremner is extremely natural on stage, and even provided the biggest laughs of the night. And despite an extremely wordy script – running at a total of two-and-a-half-hours – he didn’t falter once.
We already knew Caroline Quentin was no stranger to a comedic turn, but she was nevertheless hilarious in conveying the part of the dowdy maid who knows her place.
But it was Patricia Hodge who stole the show, at times becoming the mother-in-law from hell, while also trying to keep up with the changing social dynamic.
Directed by Tony and Olivier Award-winning director Trevor Nunn, Relative Values is a fascinating exploration of the class system with a witty dialogue that keeps the audience thoroughly engaged throughout.
It is on at the Theatre Royal every evening at 7.45pm until Saturday, July 6, with a matinee performance at 2.30pm on Thursday, too.
To book tickets, visit www.atgtickets.com