An argument can start over anything and can often have far-reaching consequences. One minute Meredith and Pip are bickering over the plot holes in a throwaway movie (apparently so big a lorry could be driven through them), the next their lover’s tiff turns into a petty mud-slinging contest that exposes the gaping cracks in their fair-weather marriage. Pip moves out.

Before long, the estranged pair have dragged everyone into their row, for better or worse – setting off a powder keg of absurd arguments and silly in-fighting.

Pip’s pal Tony, a no-nonsense and frankly boorish City shark doesn’t have a kind word to say about his shrew of a wife (ironic as he introduced them). Meredith’s gormless friend Jane spouts such bromides as “I argue therefore I am” before changing tack and declaring she always had an inkling their relationship was doomed from the start. As for Meredith’s unsupportive mother, Chloe, she thinks nothing of kicking her jilted daughter when she’s down, blaming her (as seems to be the overwhelming consensus) for being discarded like yesterday’s dinner and hurling insults when her tough love approach doesn’t do the trick.

Nothing is too small, insignificant or trivial for this tightly-wound (and rancorous) lot, who relish an excuse to finally lob a few home truths under the guise of “honesty”.

Astutely-observed, a smidgen too close to home and decidedly spiky, William Boyd’s The Argument doesn’t pull any punches. Neither do his gung-ho cast. Felicity Kendal is spoiling for a fight as Meredith’s stiff-upper-lip mother. Rupert Vansittart gives as good as he gets, and then some, as her cantankerous husband. The short-fused duo may not be blessed with as much stage time as Meredith (Alice Orr-Ewing) – a study in haughtiness and biting cynicism, not unlike mother dearest - or Pip (Simon Harrison), but between them, they have the lion's share of the wittiest one-liners.

Sadly the rather short running time (75 minutes without an interval) means that beyond what’s gleaned from quick-fire bouts of verbal swordplay, we learn little, if nothing at all, about the secondary, or indeed, lead characters – who can feel a tad one-note. Meredith has few redeeming qualities and Pip, for all his bravado, is, well, plain cowardly. When we finally get a glimpse of the woman behind the guarded ice queen, curtain falls, leaving us craving a sense of closure.

That said, The Argument is a hysterical (in every way) and expertly-paced dive into the intricacies and wide ramifications of a good old barney.

The Argument runs at the Theatre Royal Bath until August 24.