A survey of the work of Alan Ayckbourn, Britain’s most performed contemporary playwright.
Alan Ayckbourn is, after Shakespeare, Britain’s most performed playwright and acknowledged as one of its most skilful directors. In thirty years he has written over fifty plays and directed three times that number emerging as a formidable dramatist of international renown. Dismissed at first as a ‘mere boulevadier’, he is now seen as an outstanding modern comic playwright, exploring themes of social and political importance with a bleak eye and a capacity to construct comedy out of the experiences of the middle class audience. This book explores the range of his work which covers light comedy, farce, theatrical cartoon, musicals, and plays for children. It defines the early influences and the developing themes, concentrating on Ayckbourn’s technical skills and his challenges to Aristotelian unities. It traces the playwright’s journey from observer of middle class dilemmas, through moral and ethical commentator and on to his emerging concentration on fantasist behaviour. The comic eye which lies at the heart of the work is explored as a product of both dramatic technique and theatrical necessity.
Michael Holt is Lecturer in Drama at the University of Manchester. He specialises in aspects of contemporary playwriting, performance and production, and the Quasi Theatrical Leisure industry. He is also a theatre designer of national and international repute. He has worked with Alan Ayckbourn as a designer for over 25 years in the Scarborough theatres and elsewhere, and is the author of books on stage and costume design.
General Editor: Professor Isobel Armstrong, Birkbeck, University of London
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