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Diogenes “Relatively Speaking” is Objectively Fun

Review by Prabir Das of Relatively Speaking: Diogenes Theatre Company

Relatively Speaking, presented by Diogenes Theatre Company at the Fifth Third Bank Theater of Aronoff Center, is indeed a story that can be a reality. Although set in the 1960s, Alan Ayckbourn’s play still resonates with many households even today.

The cast of four, consisting of one relatively middle-aged couple and one relatively younger couple, somehow get completely entangled in a relationship of who is who, or rather who is whose what! Greg and Ginny have possibly just entered into a steady relationship where a wedding between the two is in the horizon. Philip and Sheila are apparently a happily married couple who have gone through many springs together and perhaps are now facing the winter, while still maintaining Indian summer warmth in their life together. Ginny and Philip work in the same office and thus came to know each other and got engaged in a relationship outside of public eyes. Philip adores the much younger Ginny and spends nights at her apartment once in a while, where he at times forgets and leaves behind some of his belongings, such as a pair of shoes. He also showers his love for Ginny by regularly sending her chocolates, flowers and other gifts. Greg suspects yet remains clueless.

On a third Sunday of a month Ginny decides to visit Philip in his countryside home while Sheila is expected to attend church. Ginny wants to utilize this one last visit to end the relationship with Philip. Ginny tells Greg that she would be visiting her parents for the day. They say goodbye to each other and Ginny leaves to catch train to the countryside. Greg, who never met Ginny’s parents, decides to surprise them with his unannounced presence. He catches the train and arrives earlier than Ginny since Ginny missed the train.

The story truly gets hilarious from this point forward. Greg assumes Sheila is Ginny’s mother and Philip isGinny’s father. Ginny arrives shortly after and finds Sheila at home. And thus the entire relationship between the four continues to evolve. As an audience we applaud the humor as well as remain at the edge of our seats wondering  when the two culprits will  get caught. As they continue to attempt to untangle each relationship through various allies and alibis, the playwright takes us all to a rather pleasant and happy ending.

Director Brian Isaac Phillips does a marvelous job with several compositions that carry the essence of lightness of the play. Each of the cast members, Patrick E. Phillips (Greg), Bailie Breaux (Ginny), Robert Pavlovich (Philip) and Abby Rowold (Sheila) do complete justice to their characters. Abby Rowold is perhaps the best casting in the play. Her appearance, ease and elegant movements truly were outstanding.

Within the limitations of a black box theatre, set designer Sarah Beth Hall did a noteworthy job. Amanda McGee’s costume design was in line with the time period and Doug Borntrager’s sound designing was adequate. Alan Kleesattel’s lighting design at one untimely point lost power where the stage lost all lights; Abby Rowold’s impromptu delivery – “Umm, an eclipse all of a sudden” simply added to audience’s laughter in appreciation for her spontaneous reaction.

It is a must see for all fun loving theatre goers.