Bedroom Farce program

Photos above from the app, “50 Years at the National Theatre”, released by the National on the occasion of its half-century anniversary. Alan Ayckbourne’s Bedroom Farce, described by the playwright as having “everything about bedrooms but copulation, something which I believe is hardly practiced in the British bedroom anyway,” premiered at the NT in 1977 with Michael Kitchen in the role of Nick.  A phenomenal hit, the play is credited with reversing the fortunes of the organization during a difficult period:

The National was at one of its low ebbs – it had had a lot of technical problems and a lot of bad press, and people were asking, ‘Why is all the national funding going to this?’ I think what Bedroom Farce did at the time – which was really nice – was to provide the building, if not with its first, certainly with one of its earliest big hits. It certainly lifted the morale: it was during that terrible period of the strikes, and all that business with pickets. There had been a lot of very ugly feeling around.”

– quote by Alan Ayckbourne from his official website

Theater flyer for the play:

Robert Cushman wrote in The Observer (Mar. 20, 1977):

The ritziest room is occupied by the creamily witty Polly Adams, and by Michael Kitchen, not hitherto my idea of a light comedian, who plays a brilliant variation on his usual thrusting young executive, this one being laid up with a bad back. His misadventures (it hurts when he moves and people keep disturbing him) raise the loudest laughs of the evening.

When the play opened on Broadway in 1979, MK was one of two original cast members who didn’t reprise their respective roles, but he did return for the 1980 ITV broadcast, also a huge success.  How fun it would be to watch MK act out the antics of a “self-important businessman” writhing in pain from a pulled back muscle. There are 11 color photos from the TV production on the RexFeatures site.

(In the 2002 London revival, Nick was played by Nigel Lindsay, presumably with a better accent than the pseudo-Texan one he adopted as Clayton Del Mar in High Castle.)

Quite a feat that during the spring/summer 1977 season at the Lyttelton Theatre, Michael Kitchen played Nick in Bedroom Farce while also portraying Trotsky in State of Revolution, two roles that couldn’t have been more different.

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