Alan Ayckbourn holds lottery for key to Roundelay performances


Alan Ayckbourn’s latest offering is a bit of a lottery for audiences at Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre.

Roundelay consists of five short plays but the order in which they’ll be performed on any given night will be left entirely to a random draw before the show.

If nothing else the playwright’s 78th production will keep the cast on their toes.

This is nothing new for a writer known for pushing the boundaries and set designs have, for past productions, been inspirational.

The five short plays – The Judge, The Novelist, The Politician, The Star, The Agent – intended to be seen in a random order.

The sequence will be decided by a member of the audience up to 30 minutes before each show by drawing coloured balls from a hat in the SJT Bar.

Alan Ayckbourn.
Alan Ayckbourn.

Said Alan: “The over-riding theme is memory – 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.

“There are 120 possibilities as to the order in which they can be performed.

“Each performance will unfold differently in this unique adventure in live theatre.

“Which order will you see? Nobody knows for certain, least of all us!”

The production is directed by Ayckbourn and the cast includes Brooke Kinsella (Kelly Taylor in EastEnders) and Sophie Roberts, previously seen in Macbeth at Sheffield Crucible and Taking Sides at Chichester Festival Theatre and in the West End.

Both make their debut with The Stephen Joseph Company.

They are joined by Richard Stacey and Russell Dixon (Ayckbourn Ensemble); Alexandra Mathie (Neighbourhood Watch, and Private Fears In Public Places); Leigh Symonds; Nigel Hastings (Journey’s End); and Krystle Hylton.

Roundelay plays in the Round from September 4 to October 4.

Following its opening in Scarborough, the production will go on national tour to venues including the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-under-Lyme, The Old Laundry Theatre in Bowness-on-Windermere and Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.

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