STAGE REVIEW: Ten Times Table at the Festival Theatre, Malvern, from Monday, November 11 to Saturday, November 16, 2019.

BLEND together a mix of seasoned and popular British television and stage actors, stir in the comic genius of one of the country’s top comedy playwrights, and the outcome is a tried and tested recipe that will generally please its audience.

Alan Ayckbourn’s Ten Times falls right into this category as he has that Midas touch.

Even better still is when it’s all slotted together alongside Bill Kenwright’s Classic Comedy Company as together it ensures it will deliver the anticipated entertainment for the audience as it takes on board some of the wide-ranging social issues which emerged in the mid-1970s.

It could be said to be getting a touch long in the tooth, somewhat dated, but although Ten Times has been around for the best part of half-a-century it still has its moments - a certain charm, appeal and easy to appreciate silliness.

Anyone who has ever served on a committee, big or small, will appreciate how it brings together a set of individuals supposedly working towards a common goal but inevitably those of a stronger nature all try to score points over each other, while some simply let events take their course without any real involvement.

Ten Times deals with the inception of a small town folk festival, from its very first committee meeting which clearly sets the tone that there is trouble ahead in ensuing gatherings - especially with its plethora of members who each have certain agendas of their own.

These’s a dithering councillor and his not quite altogether mother Audrey, delightfully played by Elizabeth Power, Robert Duncan’s hugely entertaining Laurence, a perfect gent with drink and family problems, there’s also a strident Marxist, and the inveterate organiser who would have been so clearly upset had he not been made chairman.

His middle class wife is also on board, as are two young women in thrall with the ‘red under the bed’ and then there’s the ‘unknown’ - a somewhat mystery ingredient, a loose canon in a former Army officer drafted in at short notice to help with the festival’s battle re-enactment.

Splendid performances from the talented and popular Robert Daws as chairman Ray - a picture of misguided efficiency, but over-keen and over-active, and from his acutely sensitive wife Helen, played by Deborah Grant.

Craig Gazey’s bullish and argumentative Eric is full of enthusiasm and mischief as he attempts to confront capitalism and the bourgeois ranks around him, but for real eccentricity it’s Harry Gostelow’s Tim, who pushes the fun up a notch or two with his outlandish ‘battle plan’ which includes using a real argument winner in the shape of a gun!

Director Robin Herford ensures proceedings maintain a good pace but that’s quite easy to achieve with such a compellingly experienced cast involved.

It doesn’t put any strain on the audience’s intellect - it just leads them along a well worn comedy path that we British like to wander every now and then.

Simple, easy to follow and obligingly good fun.