REPERTORY theatre has returned to Dorset, with a small group of performers putting on no fewer than five plays in as many weeks at Wimborne’s Tivoli Theatre.

Taking Steps, by Britain’s favourite living playwright, Sir Alan Ayckbourn, got the London Repertory Players’ season off to a hugely enjoyable start.

When the curtain rises, Lizzie (Victoria Porter) is on the verge of leaving her husband of three months, Roland (Neil James). He is blissfully unaware that they have any problems and is about to sign a contract to buy the creaky country house they are living in.

But they are not the only couple going through upheavals. Lizzie’s brother Mark (Al Wadlan) is smitten with Kitty (Hepzibah Roe), a young woman whose life is in such chaos that she has somehow got herself arrested for soliciting.

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Add in some outsiders – a bumbling young solicitor (Joseph Prestwitch) and the house’s desperate owner (Mitch Capaldi) – and you have a cast of characters who are set to collide in a series of embarrassments and misunderstandings.

These same players spent several summers at Boscombe’s Shelley Theatre before the pandemic, and they have taken full advantage of the move to a larger stage. The excellent set, built by Deborah Pike, represents several storeys of a big country house, and there are some strong laughs as the cast mime the journeys up and down stairs.

It’s a play that starts a little slowly as it sets up the characters and relationships, but once the farce gets under way, the comedy set pieces keep coming, and are performed with immaculate timing by a strong cast under director Vernon Thompson.

As always with Ayckbourn, there are some insights into human folly and frailty here, but they lurk behind almost constant laughter.

Taking Steps runs until Saturday, July 30.