The Ayckbourn Ensemble visits Bath featuring three thrilling new works and an absorbing revival as Arrivals & Departures, Time of My Life and Farcicals appear at the Theatre Royal
Following a spectacular summer season at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, the Ayckbourn Ensemble tours to Bath with two world premiere productions, Arrivals & Departures and Farcicals – comprising two interconnected one-act plays – and a welcome revival of Alan Ayckbourn’s 1992 show, Time of My Life. Appearing at the Theatre Royal from Monday 3rd March to Saturday 8th March, the week culminates in a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a feast of great theatre with all four plays in one day.
Arrivals & Departures is Alan Ayckbourn’s latest play celebrated by critics as “his new masterpiece”. In this gripping dark comedy, set at a London mainline rail terminus, an elaborate trap is deployed in an attempt to capture a dangerous and elusive terrorist. Major Quentin Sexton and his hand-picked SSDO (Strategic Simulated Distractional Operations) Unit are poised, ready to pounce. To assist them, civilian witness Barry Hawkins and his ‘minder’ Ez Swain are on hand to confirm final identification. What can possibly go wrong?
Arrivals & Departures plays Bath in repertory with Time of My Life, which was first seen at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in 1992 and presented a year later in the West End at the Vaudeville Theatre. This is its first major revival directed by the author since its Scarborough premiere.
It is Laura Stratton’s fifty-fourth birthday and, to celebrate the event, her husband Gerry, their two sons and their partners are gathered for an evening out in the family’s favourite restaurant. All seems well. Glyn, their eldest son, has patched up his marriage with Stephanie; younger son Adam has a new girlfriend and is deeply in love. But, as their evening proceeds, both skeletons from the past and a spectre of the future are revealed in this compelling psychological comedy.
The third Ayckbourn play touring to Bath is another world premiere production, Farcicals, a pair of interlinked, one-act comedies comprising The Kidderminster Affair and Chloë with Love. In The Kidderminster Affair – a comedy of fun, infidelity and food fights – Teddy’s garden barbecue becomes a hotbed of sexual intrigue. Whilst in Chloë with Love, Teddy’s marriage to Lottie is going through a difficult patch. Cue next-door neighbours Penny and Reggie to the rescue; Penny weighs in to help Lottie and Reggie resolves to help his best friend to resist temptation. But with the arrival of the voluptuous Chloë, all their best laid schemes are put to the test in this comedy of love, lust and loss of trousers. Farcicals can be seen on Saturday 8th March at 11.30am.
Ben Porter appears in Arrivals & Departures and Time of My Life. His many stage credits include What the Butler Saw and Becket in the West End, both of which played Bath in 2000 and 1991 respectively; and The Heiress and The Invention of Love at the National Theatre. He has also performed at the Theatre Royal in Ayckbourn’s Surprises (2013), Life of Riley and Communicating Doors (2011) and Bedroom Farce (2007); as well as Losing Louis (2006) and The Woman in Black (2008), reprising his West End role. His television work includes Manchild, The Bill and Casualty.
Terence Booth appears in Farcicals and Arrivals & Departures. He has previously performed at the Theatre Royal Bath in Alan Ayckbourn’s Neighbourhood Watch (2012); My Wonderful Day (2010); Life and Beth (2009); A Trip to Scarborough (2008); Improbable Fiction (2006); and Season’s Greetings (2004). His many theatre credits also include the original production of Ayckbourn’s A Trip to Scarborough in 1982, and his television work includes Doctors, EastEnders, Casualty, Alan Partridge and Silent Witness.
Appearing in Arrivals & Departures and Time of My Life, Richard Stacey returns to the Theatre Royal after previous roles in Alan Ayckbourn’s Surprises (2013), Life and Beth (2009), A Trip to Scarborough (2008), If I Were You (2007), How The Other Half Loves for The Peter Hall Company (August 2007); and Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing for The Peter Hall Company 2005. His television work includes Vera, The Return of Tracey Beaker and Peak Practice.
Sarah Parks performs in Arrivals & Departures and Time of My Life. She has worked extensively with Hull Truck and Northern Broadsides, and her previous performances at the Theatre Royal Bath include Hard Times in 1997 and Surprises in 2013. Sarah’s television credits include Scott & Bailey, Shameless, Coronation Street and Ruth Rendell Mysteries.
Kim Wall was last seen at the Theatre Royal in The Play What I Wrote (2004) and in Ayckbourn’s Life of Riley (2011); he returns to perform in Farcicals and Arrivals & Departures. In 2010, Kim was directed by Alan Ayckbourn for Northampton’s Ayckbourn at Seventy Festival, performing in Man of the Moment, and appearing in Just Between Ourselves and Private Fears in Public Places. His many television credits include Eastenders, Allo Allo, Casualty and Comedy Nation.
The Ayckbourn Ensemble also features Elizabeth Boag, Rachel Caffrey, Russell Dixon, Emily Pithon, James Powell and Sarah Stanley.
Alan Ayckbourn is one of the world’s greatest living playwrights. 2014 marks his 53rd year as a theatre director and his 55th year as a playwright. He has directed more than 300 productions and written 77 plays. Recent hit revivals of his work include Matthew Warchus’ Old Vic staging of The Norman Conquests; the National Theatre’s 2010 production of Season’s Greetings; in the West End, Absent Friends directed by Jeremy Herrin; A Chorus of Disapproval directed by Trevor Nunn; and in 2013, Relatively Speaking, starring Felicity Kendal and directed by Lindsay Posner, which returned to Bath last April immediately prior to the West End. Between 1972 and 2009, Alan Ayckbourn was the Artistic Director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough; he continues to guest direct at the theatre, which has premiered virtually all his plays. In recent years, Alan Ayckbourn was inducted into American Theatre’s Hall of Fame; he received the 2010 Critics’ Circle Award for Services to the Arts, and he became the first British playwright to receive both Olivier and Tony Special Lifetime Achievement Awards. He was knighted in 1997 for services to theatre.
The Ayckbourn Ensemble appears in repertory at the Theatre Royal Bath from Monday 3rd March to Saturday 8th March. Tickets are available from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 01225 448844 or at www.theatreroyal.org.uk