‘Relatively Speaking’ is a blast

‘Relatively Speaking’ is a blast
From left to right: Mark Shoemaker as Phillip, Sylvia Marnie as Sheila and Jeffrey Steiger as Greg in 'Relatively Speaking,' playing now at the Island Players Theater. - Tom Vaught | Sun

If you’re looking for a good laugh, the Island Players Theater is a great place to find one during the run of “Relatively Speaking.”

Like a PBS weekend evening comedy, “Relatively Speaking,” by Alan Ayckbourn, is a British comedy mixing dry humor with touches of the absurd. Things start off appearing relatively normal in the home of Greg, played expertly by Jeffrey Steiger, and Ginny, played wonderfully by Kristin Mazzitelli. A cohabitating couple, everything seems fine to Greg in his relationship with Ginny, despite finding gifts and even a pair of slippers that he knows shouldn’t be there. When Greg follows Ginny out to the country after he proposes marriage, hilarity ensues in a comedy of mix-ups, mistakes and instances of mistaken identity.

The cast gave a stellar opening night performance, thanks to director Heiko Knipfelberg’s efforts behind the scenes. Joining Steiger and Mazzitelli on stage are Mark Shoemaker as Phillip and Sylvia Marnie as Sheila, Phillip’s wife.

When Ginny goes out of town, she tells Greg that it’s to see her parents. Instead, she goes to the home of her married lover, Phillip, to break things off. Greg follows her but manages to arrive first. Thinking that Phillip and the unwitting Sheila are Ginny’s parents, the laughs begin to roll through the audience as Ginny arrives, further complicating an already complicated and hilarious situation.

With only four members, the cast was given an enormous task in carrying the play and it’s one that they met head-on and conquered. If you measure a comedy by its laughs, this one started slowly as the storyline was established and moved toward a fever pitch by the end of the first act. As the four characters begin to sort out the situation, the laughs and plentiful and the acting is stellar throughout the play.

The bulk of the play takes place in Phillip and Sheila’s garden at their country home. Kudos go to set designer Jan Van Wart and her crew for the creation of beautiful sets that only add to the wonderful performances on stage.

“Relatively Speaking” is not only an entertaining play, it’s also a great night out and chock full of laughs. Tickets are well worth the price of admission and are available at the box office at the Island Players Theater, 10009 Gulf Drive in Anna Maria or by calling 941-778-5755. The play is onstage nightly through Nov. 17 with a matinee performance on Sundays. The stage is dark on Mondays. The box office is open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and one hour before showtimes. “Relatively Speaking” is co-produced by Bortell’s Lounge.

– Kristin Swain contributed to this report.

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