Damsels in Distress

Previewed 4 September 2002, Opened 7 September 2002, Closed 11 January 11 2003

The transfer from the Stephen Joseph Theatre of the Alan Ayckbourn Trilogy Damsels in Distress - FlatSpin, GamePlan, and RolePlay

Furiously funny and breathtakingly plotted, Damsels in Distress takes three Ayckbourn plays and spin's them into a thrilling chronicle of marriage, lust, life, boyfriends gangsters, mothers, fathers and getting into, and out of, trouble just in the nick of time. These three new comedies written and directed by the legendary Alan Ayckbourn are entirely separate plays, though they have been specifically written to be performed by the same cast and on the same set. Either individually or as a trilogy, this is compelling theatre.

RolePlay

An introductory supper for the parents-in-law to be. An important occasion with the fine planning in order. But no-one has allowed for the arrival of the desperate Paige Petite who literally drops in from the upstairs flat - hotly pursued by the menacing Micky Rale.

Performed Monday to Saturday evenings at 7.30pm and Thursday matinees at 2.30pm.

The cast featured Robert Austin as 'Derek Jobson', Saskia Butler as 'Julie-Ann Jobson', Bill Champion as 'Justin Lazenby', Tim Faraday as 'Micky Rale', Jacqueline King as 'Arabella Lazenby', Alison Pargeter as 'Paige Petite', and Beth Tuckey as 'Dee Jobson'. Directed by Alan Ayckbourn with sets by Roger Glossop, costumes by Christine Wall, and lighting by Mick Hughes. A transfer from the Stephen Joseph Theatre Scarborough, North Yorkshire where this production previewed from 30 August 2001, opened on 4 September 2001, and closed on 17 November 2001 (in repertory) with the same cast.

"RolePlay finds Ayckbourn at his classic best, with the action set, as on so many previous occasions, at a disastrous dinner party... Every character is sharply drawn, every gag comes off, and the comedy is fuelled by a palpable depth of humanity and escalating dramatic tension." The Daily Telegraph

"Luckily, the comedy machine has hidden reserves, which come to the fore in RolePlay. Although lacking the emotional conviction of GamePlan, the drama brings humorous punch to a disastrous dinner party, where two people more bonded by romance than love introduce their respective parents to each other... However this comedy-of-lack-of-manners is too caricatured for overall satisfaction." The London Evening Standard

"The last piece, RolePlay, returns to vintage Ayckbourn territory: the dinner party from hell. A young couple are planning to announce their engagement at an introductory supper for their prospective in-laws... There are plot niggles, but it's heartening how this gruesomely funny collision of worlds gradually convinces the shy fiancé that he must seek a world elsewhere." The Independent

FlatSpin

A night of romance in a luxurious riverside apartment with a good looking stranger. How can it possibly go wrong for Joanna? But the flat’s not hers, her name isn’t Joanna and heaven knows what the stranger is after.

Performed Saturday matinees at 11.30am.

The cast featured Robert Austin as 'Maurice Whickett', Saskia Butler as 'Tracy Taylor', Bill Champion as 'Sam Berryman', Tim Faraday as 'Tommy Angel', Jacqueline King as 'Edna Stricken', Alison Pargeter as 'Rosie Seymour', and Beth Tuckey as 'Annette Sefton-Wilcox'. Directed by Alan Ayckbourn with sets by Roger Glossop, costumes by Christine Wall, and lighting by Mick Hughes. A transfer from the Stephen Joseph Theatre Scarborough, North Yorkshire where this production previewed from 28 June 2001, opened on 3 July 2001, and closed on 8 September 2001 (in repertory) with the same cast.

"The weakest of the pieces is FlatSpin... There are some very good gags... But the ludicrous 'comedy-thriller' plot over-relies on the idea that the secret services are exclusively run by bungling amateurs." The Independent

"FlatSpin, in which an out-of-work actress is sucked into a preposterous comic-thriller about a drugs sting, is one of the thinnest Ayckbourn has ever written. The plot doesn't add up, and the characters come from reach-me-down Ayckbournian stock. Only the vitality of the playing keeps the piece afloat." The Daily Telegraph

"[FlatSpin] is by far the weakest of this trilogy, not least because Seymore is sub-Bridget Jones, while her unconvincing romantic hero, Sam Berryman, is like substitute butter: cheap and slick, with a nasty aftertaste." The London Evening Standard

GamePlan

Lynette’s business collapses and her husband disappears. She finds herself a single parent with a bleak future. But her teenage daughter tries a last-ditch attempt to save them both. Will her desperate game plan plunge them into deeper trouble?

Performed Saturday matinees at 3.30pm.

The cast featured Robert Austin as 'Leo Tyler', Saskia Butler as 'Sorrel Saxon', Bill Champion as 'Troy Stephens', Tim Faraday as 'Dan Endicott', Jacqueline King as 'Lynette Saxon', Alison Pargeter as 'Kelly Butcher', and Beth Tuckey as 'Grace Page'. Directed by Alan Ayckbourn with sets by Roger Glossop, costumes by Christine Wall, and lighting by Mick Hughes. A transfer from the Stephen Joseph Theatre Scarborough, North Yorkshire where this production previewed from 24 May 2001, opened on 29 May 2001, and closed on 8 September 2001 (in repertory) with the same cast.

"GamePlan lurches into action at 6am. A manic-depressive mother, gasping from one cigarette to another, bemoans her business's collapse and the disappearance of her husband. Her 16-year-old daughter Sorrel's combined desperation to help financially and her contempt for men leads to an all too obvious solution... The issue here - in as far as Ayckbourn can be reduced to issues - is the tragedy of Sorrel's need to grow up too fast. Yet such moral debates are never clumsily spelled out, instead they become subsumed into the machine of comedy, which, like life, marches brutally on." The London Evening Standard

"The first act of the second play, GamePlan, is one of the most powerful, and uncomfortable, in the Ayckbourn oeuvre... The writing is at once near-the-knuckle, touching and outrageously funny, though the dramatist doesn't develop the play as darkly or as daringly as he could or should." The Daily Telegraph

"The blackest-edged of the plays is GamePlan, where the collapse of her mother's dot.com business and desertion by her father drive Sorrel (Saskia Butler), a 16-year-old schoolgirl, to reinvent herself as Randy Mandy, a part-time prostitute... the comedy is both uncomfortable and moving." The Independent

Performance Schedules

Performance schedule up to Saturday 14 September 2002: Monday 7.30pm: GamePlan / Tuesday 7.30pm: FlatSpin / Wednesday 7.30pm: RolePlay / Thursday 2.30pm: GamePlan / 7.30pm: FlatSpin/ Friday 7.30pm: RolePlay / Saturday 11.30am: GamePlan / 3.30pm: FlatSpin / 7.30pm: RolePlay.

Performance schedule from Monday 16 September to Saturday 28 September 2002: Monday 7.30pm: FlatSpin / Tuesday 7.30pm: GamePlan / Wednesday 7.30pm: RolePlay / Thursday 2.30pm: FlatSpin / 7.30pm: GamePlan / Friday 7.30pm: RolePlay / Saturday 11.30am: FlatSpin / 3.30pm: GamePlan / 7.30pm: RolePlay.

Performance schedule from Monday 30 September 2002 to Saturday 11 January 2003: Monday 7.30pm: RolePlay / Tuesday 7.30pm: RolePlay / Wednesday 7.30pm: RolePlay / Thursday 2.30pm: RolePlay / 7.30pm: RolePlay / Friday 7.30pm: RolePlay / Saturday 11.30am: FlatSpin / 3.30pm: GamePlan / 7.30pm: RolePlay.

Alan Ayckbourn's London plays include Communicating Doors, Woman in Mind, How The Other Half Loves, Absurd Person Singular, Absent Friends, The Norman Conquests, Relatively Speaking, A Chorus of Disapproval, Bedroom Farce, and Things We Do for Love. Alan Ayckbourn also provided lyrics to the Andrew Lloyd Webber's P G Wodehouse musical By Jeeves, and Roger Glossop's children's show of Beatrix Potter's Where is Peter Rabbit?