Alan Ayckbourn’s Ten Times Table centres on the inner politics of a committee tasked with organising a pageant in their local town. The seemingly mundane meetings soon fall into chaos as Marxist teacher, Eric Collins (Craig Gazey), clashes with the committee chair’s more conservative wife, Helen Dixon (Deborah Grant). Eventually, the pageant turns into an all-out disaster.
The performances were good but fell into clichéd stereotypes, possibly due to the nature of how they were written. The play’s principal character, committee chair Ray Dixon (Robert Daws), attempts to get the other characters on side, with little success. This resulted in Daws’ performance mirroring that of the Speaker of the House of Commons, becoming very ‘Bercow-esque’.
The play’s best performances, however, are given by Gazey and Grant, comedically embodying a stereotypical Marxist and Conservative. Gazey’s performance as the over principled Marxist is everything that a Conservative would hate, helping to fuel his clashes with Mrs Dixon. The same can be said about Grant’s performance.
The other major stereotypes within the play were Mark Curry’s Donald Evans and Robert Duncan’s Laurence Adamson, playing the town’s ‘busybody’ and the depressive drunk, respectively. While both performances captured the role, it was nothing to write home about.
Initially, the set seemed nothing special, and somewhat underwhelming. However, this greatly played into the fact that the meetings were taking place in the not-so-grand, ‘grand’ ballroom of the local hotel.
A similar comment can be made about the costumes; they were nothing special. However, this helped to add to the fact that the play is centred on the mundane and is about normal people. While the pageant costumes aired on the side of being reminiscent of an amateur production, it again suited the subject matter of the play.
The only major criticism of the play would be of Robin Herford’s direction, as I found that having one member of the cast with their back to the audience to be somewhat annoying and blocked the person directly opposite. This may not have been the case if you were situated in the circle or balcony but was nevertheless an annoyance to those in the stalls.
Ultimately, Ayckbourn’s Ten Times Table is a pleasantly entertaining and humorous night out. However, would it be something I tell all my friends to go and see? No.
Featured Image: Pamela Raith