Ayckbourn play goes round in circles

A COLLECTION of interconnecting plays is not such a new idea – but Alan Ayckbourn’s latest adventure, Roundelay, takes a very different approach to it.

It is based around five interconnecting situations, but the play is written so that the five can be performed in any order. This means if you see the play one night, it may appear very different the next.

YES, WE’LL DRINK TO THAT – Roundelay features both Russell Dixon and Brooke Kinsella
YES, WE’LL DRINK TO THAT – Roundelay features both Russell Dixon and Brooke Kinsella

There are 120 possible combinations and no-one, including the actors, will know the order until 25 minutes before the play begins. Audiences will determine the sequence ahead of each performance when there will be a draw in the theatre bar.

“The overriding theme is memory,” says the playwright. “What we choose to remember and to forget, false memories, personal histories we distort, the pasts we invent, memories that age takes away from us, long-forgotten memories which time restores to us, memories of the same events the details of which no two people ever quite share.

“The plays are all related. Some are sequels to others which turn out to be preludes to others. Each performance will unfold differently in this unique adventure in live theatre.

“Which order will you see? Nobody knows for certain.” Ayckbourn’s 78th play, Roundelay premiered last summer and will now open at Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre on Wednesday (January 21), where it will play until Saturday, January 31.

The issues to be addressed include Sir Thomas’ trust of his memories. Is there more to Blanche than meets the eye? Will Roz achieve her showbusiness ambitions? And just what sort of agency does Gale run? Witness the skeleton in the politician’s cupboard and discover Russ’ first love.

What is certain is that the cast includes Brooke Kinsella (Kelly Taylor in EastEnders) as Elizabeth Boag, along with Russell Dixon, Richard Stacey, Sarah Stanley, Leigh Symonds, Nigel Hastings and Krystle Hylton.


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