Alan Ayckbourn

Plays by Alan Ayckbourn

The Boy Who Fell into a Book

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Rockfist Slim's enemies have just plunged him into yet another desperate situation when Kevin has to close his detective book and go to sleep. But his own adventure is only just beginning. Fast-moving, fun and full of special effects, Ayckbourn's wonderfully inventive play for children brings alive several well-known children's books as Kevin and Rockfist Slim escape the baddies and plunge into many different worlds.

The Boy Who Fell into a Book premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in December 1998.

The Champion of Paribanou

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

A sultan seeks lasting peace by marrying off one of his three sons to the princess of a neighbouring kingdom. The princes aren’t happy with their father’s scheme, so they hatch a plan to delay the wedding. They set out on a quest which they claim is to ‘prove their love’. Their disappearance upsets the real love of the youngest prince, who believes she has been betrayed. When her heatbreak leads her into the influence of evil powers, the prince must learn to fight for his family and friends.

Loosely inspired by the Arabian Nights' tale of the Flying Carpet, The Champion of Paribanou premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in November 1996.

Communicating Doors

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

How Ms Poopay Dayseer, a twenty-first century Specialist Sexual Consultant, whilst peddling her ‘services’ to an elderly hotel room client unexpectedly finds herself running for her life. How her flight through a communicating door brings her face to face with her own past and with Ruella who apparently died under suspicious circumstances twenty years earlier. And how Poopay’s gradual friendship with that remarkable woman changes the future for both of them…

A time-travelling comedy thriller, Communicating Doors was published to coincide with the West End opening in 1995.

Ernie's Incredible Illucinations

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Ernie’s incredible imagination is alarming his parents. They go to the doctor in search of a cure. Once they’re there, they discover Ernie’s ‘illucinations’ are more powerful than they realised. Everything Ernie imagines – from secret agents to a boxing granny – becomes real.

Ernie’s Incredible Illucinations was first performed at the Unicorn Theatre For Children, London, in September 1971.

© Alan Ayckbourn, 1969

Garden

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

House & Garden

The triumph of his ingenuity lies in the fact that you have to see both plays . A second time round, in whichever order you take them, characters will deepen, while those you know become the background. It is a superb Ayckbourn joke that a comedy about non-communication should depend on the sharpest communication skills. Sunday Times

audio Henceforward...

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Starring Anne Heche and Jared Harris, the hilarious Henceforward... is one of Alan Ayckbourn’s most unusual works. In the near-future, a composer with creative block tries to re-unite with his estranged wife and daughter, hoping their reconciliation will free his mind to create his greatest musical masterpiece. But his own erratic impulses hinder his journey to creative freedom.

Includes a interview with playwright Sir Alan Ayckbourn.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring:

Jared Harris as Jerome

Anne Heche as Nan (in Act I) and Corrina

Jack Davenport as Mervyn

Paula Jane Newman as Geain

Moira Quirk as Zoe and Nan (in Act II)

Darren Richardson as Lupus

Directed by Martin Jarvis. Recorded at The Invisible Studios, West Hollywood.

Featuring: Jack Davenport, Jared Harris, Anne Heche, Paula Jane Newman, Moira Quirk, Darren Richardson

House (Ayckbourn)

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

House & Garden

The triumph of his ingenuity lies in the fact that you have to see both plays . A second time round, in whichever order you take them, characters will deepen, while those you know become the background. It is a superb Ayckbourn joke that a comedy about non-communication should depend on the sharpest communication skills. Sunday Times

If I Were You

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

‘A blissfully funny comedy that’s also filled with sadness, a devilishly simple theatrical idea that spins out all kinds of complex truths about human nature.’ Daily Telegraph

If I Were You was first performed at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in October 2006.

Invisible Friends

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Teenage Lucy’s family is too busy to pay her attention, so she decides to revive Zara, her imaginary childhood friend. This time, however, Zara really comes to life materialises, bringing with her a replacement father and brother. Lucy is about to learn you have to be care what you wish for. Even fantasy familes aren’t perfect, after all.

Invisible Friends premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in November 1989.

© Haydonning Ltd, 1991

audio Just Between Ourselves

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

The first of Ayckbourn’s darkly comic masterpieces involves a relentlessly cheerful handyman in a disastrously fractured marriage. Two couples develop an unlikely friendship in this painfully funny portrait of British suburban life.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring:

Gia Carides as Pam

Kenneth Danziger as Dennis

Judy Geeson as Vera

Miriam Margolyes as Marjorie

Alfred Molina as Neil

Directed by Waris Hussein. Recorded before a live audience at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles.

Featuring: Gia Carides, Kenneth Danziger, Judy Geeson, Miriam Margolyes, Alfred Molina

Life and Beth

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

‘A wise, humane, funny play about the inevitability of death and the continuity of life.’ Guardian

Life and Beth was first performed at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in July 2008.

Life of Riley

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

‘As perceptive as ever… Ayckbourn has once again achieved a satisfyingly rich, tragi-comic complexity.’ Daily Telegraph

Life of Riley was first performed at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in September 2010.

audio Living Together

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

In the second “battle” of Ayckbourn’s celebrated triology The Norman Conquests, we rejoin the family weekend, this time hearing the events in the living room, where Norman gets drunk on homemade dandelion wine – and all hell breaks loose. Norman unleashes his merry brand of manipulative charm on the hapless guests and even his most formidable opponents go down in defeat on the drawing room rug.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring:

Rosalind Ayres as Sarah

Kenneth Danziger as Reg

Martin Jarvis as Norman

Jane Leeves as Annie

Christopher Neame as Tom

Carolyn Seymour as Ruth

Featuring: Rosalind Ayres, Ken Danziger, Martin Jarvis, Jane Leeves, Christopher Neame, Carolyn Seymour

audio Man of the Moment

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

The price of accidental fame is hashed out in this comedy about a famous bank robber and the clerk who foiled his biggest heist. Ayckbourn’s 1988 play anticipates the popularity - and absurdity - of reality TV.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring:

Rosalind Ayres as Jill Rillington

Jane Carr as Trudy Parks

Kenneth Danziger as Douglas Beechey

Martin Jarvis as Vic Parks

Ian Oglivy as Kenny Collins

Yeardley Smith as Sharon Giffin

Directed by Robert Robinson. Recorded before a live audience in Santa Monica, CA in February, 1994.

Featuring: Rosalind Ayres, Jane Carr, Kenneth Danziger, Martin Jarvis, Ian Oglivy, Yeardley Smith

Mr A's Amazing Maze Plays

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Suzy lives in a cottage with her mother and her dog Neville (her father took off in a balloon one day and hasn't come down since). Into the big house opposite moves the suave but (though Suzy's mother doesn't see it) sinister Mr Accousticus. When Neville suddenly loses his bark Suzy is certain Mr Accousticus has something to do with it. Together she and the dog start to search the house... Through the ingenious stagecraft of Mr A, what happens next is up to the audience (or the reader). The result is magnificent entertainment for children of all ages up to eighty (and their grandparents).

Mr A's Amazing Maze Plays premiered in November 1988 at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round, Scarborough, and was subsequently staged at the National Theatre, London, in 1993.

My Sister Sadie

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Luke and his mother Avril eke out their existence tending to their run-down, isolated farm in a remote part of England. They both miss Luke's sister June so much and would give anything in the world to have her back with them, alive and well again. But life can be harsh and these days we can rarely hope for miracles.

Until one day the miracle happens. Out of the sky one night drops a brand new, full-grown, large-as-life sister - the answer to all their prayers. Or is she? For who exactly is Sadie, and where did she come from? Is she all she appears to be? And if so, why are so many mysterious people determined to find her?

An exciting, funny, tender tale of a family whose lives are changed forever by the strangest of strangers.

My Sister Sadie premiered Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in December 2003.

My Very Own Story

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Peter, Paul and Percy are three storytellers who have been triple booked for the same event. In a competitive display of storytelling, a Victorian yarn, a romance and a magical tale get interwoven to a remarkably upbeat end.

My Very Own Story premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in May 1991.

My Wonderful Day

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

‘A transformation happens as magical as the most magnificent pantomime transformation anyone could ever imagine… the playwright dissolves the paraphernalia of our adult selves and uncovers that space inside each of us that is still the child we once were.’ Observer

My Wonderful Day was first performed at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in October 2009.

audio The Norman Conquests

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Ayckbourn’s celebrated trilogy The Norman Conquests - three hilarious and poignant plays depicting the same six characters in one house over one weekend, namely Norman and his romantic follies.

Table Manners: England’s famous seducer of other men’s wives lays siege to his sister-in-law in the first “battle”. A middle-class family trying to have a pleasant country weekend is no match for Norman, who horrifies everyone by doing exactly as he likes. Living Together: In the second “battle” Norman gets drunk on homemade wine – and all hell breaks loose. He unleashes his merry brand of manipulative charm on the hapless guests and even his most formidable opponents go down in defeat on the drawing room rug. Round and Round the Garden: In the third “battle” the setting is Mother’s overgrown English garden, where something more troublesome than brambles lurks among the roses. Havoc ensues as this satirical masterpiece makes its way to a hilarious conclusion. L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performances featuring: Rosalind Ayres as Sarah Kenneth Danziger as Reg Martin Jarvis as Norman Jane Leeves as Annie Christopher Neame as Tom Carolyn Seymour as Ruth

Featuring: Rosalind Ayres, Kenneth Danziger, Martin Jarvis, Jane Leeves, Christopher Neame, Carolyn Seymour

Orvin - Champion of Champions

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

The chorus of gods set out to relate the tale of the Great Ulmar, legendary warrior and champion of Sollistis. But their narrative suffers a major technical hitch when Orvin, Ulmar's hopeless squire, oversleeps on the eve of battle. What follows proves a challenge even to such seasoned storytellers as the gods themselves as they vainly attempt to re-write history with only the help of Orvin, the unlikeliest, most reluctant of last minute replacement champions.

With a cast of 40, this is the perfect entertainment for those in search of musical fun, thrills and spectacle.

Written and directed by Alan Ayckbourn, with music composed by Denis King, Orvin - Champion of Champions was first co-produced by the Stephen Joseph Theatre and the National Youth Music Theatre and presented at the SJT, Scarborough in August 2003.

The Revengers' Comedies

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Two people meet on London's Albert Bridge at midnight, both preparing to jump off. Henry Bell has just been ousted from his job by a thrusting corporate executive; Karen Knightly has lost her farmer-lover to his scheming rustic wife. They decide that revenge is sweeter than suicide, but it is Karen who declares that she will see to Henry's oppressor if he will take care of hers. The situation results in rich, black, vintage Ayckbourn comedy.

The Revengers' Comedies was first performed in Scarborough at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round in June 1989.

audio Round and Round the Garden

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

The third “battle” of Ayckbourn’s celebrated trilogy The Norman Conquests, returns us to the same weekend in the country, but this time to the setting of Mother’s overgrown English country garden. Something more troublesome than brambles is lurking among the roses. Havoc ensues among the flora and fauna, as this cynical masterpiece makes its way to a hilarious conclusion.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Rosalind Ayres as Sarah, Kenneth Danziger as Reg, Martin Jarvis as Norman, Jane Leeves as Annie, Christopher Neame as Tom, and Carolyn Seymour as Ruth.

Featuring: Rosalind Ayres, Kenneth Danziger, Martin Jarvis, Jane Leeves, Christopher Neame, Carolyn Seymour

Season's Greetings

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Now we don't want to start Christmas like this, do we?

Cheating at snakes and ladders, fighting over comic books, a bungled infidelity beneath the tree. Christmas has arrived in the Bunker household along with family and friends. But as the children lurk just out of sight, it's the adults who are letting the side down.

Presiding over the festivities are two warring uncles, one a kindly, incompetent doctor with an interminable puppet show to perform; the other a bullying retired security guard who dominates the TV, brings toy guns for his nieces and determines there's a thief in their midst.

Season's Greetings was first performed at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round, Scarborough, in 1980.

A Small Family Business  

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Jack McCracken: a man of principle in a corrupt world. But not for long. Moments after taking over his father-in-law's business he's approached by a private detective armed with some compromising information.

Jack's integrity fades away as he discovers his extended family to be thieves and adulterers, looting the business from their suburban homes. Rampant self-interest takes over and comic hysteria builds to a macabre climax.

A Small Family Business premiered at the National Theatre in 1987.

Snake in the Grass

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

‘A terrific piece – brilliant, bizarre and yet totally believable… In fact, it’s more than classic; it’s close to the top of its class.’ Yorkshire Post

Snake in the Grass was first performed at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in June 2002.

Surprises

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Love stories yet to happen, in a future filled with surprises.

Who is the amorous stranger, Titus, who materialises in young Grace's bedroom? Can she believe he is who he says he is? For her parents, Franklin and Martha, does love everlasting still hold true if death is postponed indefinitely? Can lawyer Lorraine, who prides herself on her infallibility, have finally discovered the ideal partner, one who is also never wrong? Will lonely secretary Sylvia, after unhappy affairs with everyone from deep sea divers to space shuttle pilots, ever find her Mr Right?

Surprises premiered in July 2012 at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in a co-production with Chichester Festival Theatre.

audio Table Manners

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

England’s famous seducer of other men’s wives lays siege to his sister-in-law in the first “battle” of Ayckbourn’s celebrated trilogy The Norman Conquests. In Table Manners, the action occurs in the dining room of Mother’s house, where a conventional middle-class family is attempting to have a pleasant country weekend. But they are no match for Norman, the bane of the family, who horrifies everyone by doing exactly as he likes.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring:

Rosalind Ayres as Sarah

Kenneth Danziger as Reg

Martin Jarvis as Norman

Jane Leeves as Annie

Christopher Neame as Tom

Carolyn Seymour as Ruth.

Featuring: Rosalind Ayres, Kenneth Danziger, Martin Jarvis, Jane Leeves, Christopher Neame, Carolyn Seymour

Things We Do for Love

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Things We Do for Love stages the goings-on of three levels of the same building simultaneously. Nikki and her fiancé, Hamish, move into the upstairs flat of her best-friend Barbara’s place. Hamish and Barbara’s immediate hostility to each other masks deeper feelings. Meanwhile, in the basement the lodger, Gilbert, is making a shrine of his own hidden love.

Things We Do for Love was first performed at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in April 1997.

This Is Where We Came In

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

A motley crew of Players are forced to play out twisted versions of famous fairytales by three eccentric, ancient Storytellers. Disguised as the audience to these travesties is a legendary figure who might help the Players to break free.

A satire on storytelling and storytellers for both adults and children, This Is Where We Came In premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in August 1990.

Whenever

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

On the run after witnessing her uncle’s murder in Victorian times, Emily escapes into a machine that transports her to London during the Blitz. From there, she goes on an adventure through time in which she fights to change the course of both past and future events.

A time-travelling musical, Alan Ayckbourn’s Whenever was first performed at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in December 2000.

Woman in Mind

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

The central character of Alan Ayckbourn’s new play is Susan, a parson’s wife, ‘one of the most moving and devastating that he has created…’

Woman in Mind was first performed in Scarborough at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in May 1985.

Robin Thornber reviewing the first production in Scarborough in the Guardian.

Picture of Alan Ayckbourn

Alan Ayckbourn was born in London in 1939 to a violinist father and a mother who was a writer. He left school at seventeen with two 'A' levels and went straight into the theatre. Two years in regional theatre as an actor and stage manager led in 1959 to the writing of his first play, The Square Cat, for Scarborough's Theatre in the Round at the instigation of his then employer and subsequent mentor, Stephen Joseph. Some 75 plays later, his work has been translated into over 35 languages, is performed on stage and television throughout the world and has won countless awards. There have been English and French screen adaptations, the most notable being Alain Resnais' fine film of Private Fears in Public Places.
Major successes include Relatively Speaking, How the Other Half Loves, Absurd Person Singular, Bedroom Farce, A Chorus of Disapproval, The Norman Conquests, A Small Family Business, Henceforward . . ., Comic Potential, Things We Do For Love, and Life of Riley. Surprises was first presented at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, and subsequently at the the Minerva Theatre, Chichester in 2012.
In 2009, he retired as Artistic Director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre, where almost all his plays have been and continue to be first staged, after 37 years in the post. Knighted in 1997 for services to the theatre, he received the 2010 Critics' Circle Award for Services to the Arts and became the first British playwright to receive both Olivier and Tony Special Lifetime Achievement Awards.