Written by: Alan Aykbourn
Relatively speaking concerns two couples, one young and one middle-aged, each containing one unfaithful partner. Greg wants to marry Ginny, who has only recently broken off an affair with her boss, Philip. Ginny goes down to Philip’s country home to get back some love letters, after telling Greg that she is going to visit her parents. Greg follows her secretly, and for the rest of the afternoon we have the two couples assembled in Philip’s garden. Greg believes that Philip is Ginny’s father and that Philip’s wife, Sheila, is Ginny’s mother. Philip mistakenly gets the idea that Greg is having an affair with Sheila, and Sheila is led to believe that Ginny is nothing more than her husband’s secretary. The situation becomes increasingly complicated and hilarious.
Modelled roughly on that most perfect of all well-made comedies, The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, Relatively Speaking is still considered by many critics to be Ayckbourn’s best crafted piece. The writing is stylish and witty, with a comic sense springing from a very penetrating observation of character. The revelation of the real nature of the relationships is a fascinating satire on middle-class English life.