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NY Theater Reviews

Sean Dougherty and Ashley West

ABOVE THE SHEETS

By SANDY MACDONALD

No sex (they're British), but nonstop humor fuels this multi-couple romp.

The Actors Company Theatre ( TACT) devotes itself to resurrecting neglected work. Their sprightly revival of Alan Ayckbourn's 1975 London hit Bedroom Farce -which made a respectable showing on Broadway in 1977- makes one wonder why this charming study of marital mores has languished on the small-theater circuit ever since.

It does lend itself beautifully to an intimate setting. Here, set designer Robin Vest has layered the three bedrooms (occupied by three couples of assorted vintage) like barnicles on a pier. To the left is the fussy traditional abode of sixty-somethings Ernest and Delia ( Larry Keith and Cynthia Harris), to the right the chic minimalism of the mid-thirtyish Nick and Jan ( Scott Schafer and Margaret Nichols), and perched above is the dorm-room- like digs of playful newlyweds Malcolm and Kate ( Sean Doughery and Ashley West). Banging around the various milieux are the troubled couple Trevor and Susannah ( Mark Alhadeff and Eve Bianco), who - individually and as a unit - act like Goldilocks on a tear.

Every other word out of Trevor's mouth is "Sorry"-for getting into a knock-down-drag- out with Susannah, thereby spoiling the young couple's party, and for coming on to Jan (the brittlely cynical former girlfriend whom his parents, Ernest and Delia wish he'd married), thereby necessitating a midnight mission to apologize to Nick, cranky to be bed-ridden with a bad back, and prompting flaky Susannah to go whimpering to her parents-in-law.

Alhadeff is wonderful as a one-man disaster monger, so intrigued by his own drama that he's largely oblivious to the lives he disrupts. In fact, virtually everyone in the cast shines - especially Schafer as the immobilized Nick ( he can pack whole diatribes into one raised eyebrow), and West as the novice hostess who ends up nursemaid to a pair of neurotics.