CLASS and controversy was the order of the evening at Farnworth Little Theatre for its latest production of Stanley Houghton's Independent Means.

Written in 1908, it is hard to comprehend just how shocking a play of this kind would have been at that time, but it gave a glimpse into life in the Edwardian age when a conservative man marries a suffragette woman - which was often quite humorous thanks to an instantly likeable cast.

The story follows Edgar Forsyth (Nick Haworth) - the son of wealthy John (Derek Darlington) and Mary (Elaine Nuttall) - whose whirlwind marriage to headstrong Sydney (Ruth Morley) is starting to show cracks after he finds out she's actually a left wing suffragette.

Edgar, being a staunch conservative, is not happy, and the dialogue between the two is well performed, showing the frustration of two very different minds.

Equally the marriage of Mr and Mrs Forsyth is strained but for very different reasons - their wealthy lifestyle has come to an abrupt end due to poor business choices and subsequent gambling of the husband. The pair show a relationship drained of any real love, and sympathy can be offered for each party as they sell up and become "poor".

An amusing twist in the middle of the madness is that of maid Jane (Shirley Ann Hill) whose comedy timing is perfect when she comes in with the news she has come into money to the sum of £20,000 - switching the roles of her and the family she has worked under for 25 years.

Equally Samuel Ritchie (Phil Ward) raises many laughs with his dealings of Edgar and Sydney whom he offers employment to.

Sitting in the round, the audience had the experience of being included in the performance, and despite this often being a challenging set up for the cast, they each managed to comfortably and fluidly play to each side of the theatre.

The simplistic set was well set up with props that met the Edwardian criteria nicely, as did the cast's attire.

There was one lengthy scene change, but delightful music played throughout, keeping the mood for the time, and the stage hands moved quietly and professionally.

The show, directed by Michael Howarth, is charming, intimate, amusing, and well performed by all.

Independent means is on until Saturday, May 24. Call 0845 643 0808.