As Alan Ayckbourn’s 85th play reopens for a second brief run at the Stephen Joseph Theatre and goes online for three weeks, here’s my review by way of celebration
Of all the regional theatres that have been virtually unvisitable over the last year or so the one I most regret not being able to get to is the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough. Not just because of the many happy memories I have of the building but also because it has almost exclusively premiered every single one of Alan Ayckbourn’s 85 plays across six decades. And then I discovered I could visit it virtually (in the other sense of the word) by grabbing a ticket for that very 85th play and settling down at home. The piece in question is The Girl Next Door which harks back to earlier Ayckbourn plays such as Whenever, Miss Yesterday, Surprises and especially Communicating Doors in its central conceit of time travel.
The hedge that separates the gardens of 15 and 17 Maple Street in Canonbury, London is rather special…
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