Alan Ayckbourn

Plays by Alan Ayckbourn

A Small Family Business  

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Jack McCracken: a man of principle in a corrupt world. But not for long. Moments after taking over his father-in-law's business he's approached by a private detective armed with some compromising information.

Jack's integrity fades away as he discovers his extended family to be thieves and adulterers, looting the business from their suburban homes. Rampant self-interest takes over and comic hysteria builds to a macabre climax.

A Small Family Business premiered at the National Theatre in 1987.

Snake in the Grass

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

‘A terrific piece – brilliant, bizarre and yet totally believable… In fact, it’s more than classic; it’s close to the top of its class.’ Yorkshire Post

Snake in the Grass was first performed at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in June 2002.


Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Love stories yet to happen, in a future filled with surprises.

Who is the amorous stranger, Titus, who materialises in young Grace's bedroom? Can she believe he is who he says he is? For her parents, Franklin and Martha, does love everlasting still hold true if death is postponed indefinitely? Can lawyer Lorraine, who prides herself on her infallibility, have finally discovered the ideal partner, one who is also never wrong? Will lonely secretary Sylvia, after unhappy affairs with everyone from deep sea divers to space shuttle pilots, ever find her Mr Right?

Surprises premiered in July 2012 at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in a co-production with Chichester Festival Theatre.

audio Table Manners

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

England’s famous seducer of other men’s wives lays siege to his sister-in-law in the first “battle” of Ayckbourn’s celebrated trilogy The Norman Conquests. In Table Manners, the action occurs in the dining room of Mother’s house, where a conventional middle-class family is attempting to have a pleasant country weekend. But they are no match for Norman, the bane of the family, who horrifies everyone by doing exactly as he likes.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring:

Rosalind Ayres as Sarah

Kenneth Danziger as Reg

Martin Jarvis as Norman

Jane Leeves as Annie

Christopher Neame as Tom

Carolyn Seymour as Ruth.

Featuring: Rosalind Ayres, Kenneth Danziger, Martin Jarvis, Jane Leeves, Christopher Neame, Carolyn Seymour

Things We Do for Love

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Things We Do for Love stages the goings-on of three levels of the same building simultaneously. Nikki and her fiancé, Hamish, move into the upstairs flat of her best-friend Barbara’s place. Hamish and Barbara’s immediate hostility to each other masks deeper feelings. Meanwhile, in the basement the lodger, Gilbert, is making a shrine of his own hidden love.

Things We Do for Love was first performed at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in April 1997.

This Is Where We Came In

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

A motley crew of Players are forced to play out twisted versions of famous fairytales by three eccentric, ancient Storytellers. Disguised as the audience to these travesties is a legendary figure who might help the Players to break free.

A satire on storytelling and storytellers for both adults and children, This Is Where We Came In premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in August 1990.

Time of My Life  

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Running over thee time-streams surrounding a birthday party, Time of My Life follows a family towards a tragic conclusion.

Time of My Life premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in April 1992.


Faber and Faber
Type: Text

On the run after witnessing her uncle’s murder in Victorian times, Emily escapes into a machine that transports her to London during the Blitz. From there, she goes on an adventure through time in which she fights to change the course of both past and future events.

A time-travelling musical, Alan Ayckbourn’s Whenever was first performed at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in December 2000.

Woman in Mind

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

The central character of Alan Ayckbourn’s new play is Susan, a parson’s wife, ‘one of the most moving and devastating that he has created…’

Woman in Mind was first performed in Scarborough at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in May 1985.

Robin Thornber reviewing the first production in Scarborough in the Guardian.

Picture of Alan Ayckbourn

Alan Ayckbourn was born in London in 1939 to a violinist father and a mother who was a writer. He left school at seventeen with two 'A' levels and went straight into the theatre. Two years in regional theatre as an actor and stage manager led in 1959 to the writing of his first play, The Square Cat, for Scarborough's Theatre in the Round at the instigation of his then employer and subsequent mentor, Stephen Joseph. Some 75 plays later, his work has been translated into over 35 languages, is performed on stage and television throughout the world and has won countless awards. There have been English and French screen adaptations, the most notable being Alain Resnais' fine film of Private Fears in Public Places.
Major successes include Relatively Speaking, How the Other Half Loves, Absurd Person Singular, Bedroom Farce, A Chorus of Disapproval, The Norman Conquests, A Small Family Business, Henceforward . . ., Comic Potential, Things We Do For Love, and Life of Riley. Surprises was first presented at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, and subsequently at the the Minerva Theatre, Chichester in 2012.
In 2009, he retired as Artistic Director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre, where almost all his plays have been and continue to be first staged, after 37 years in the post. Knighted in 1997 for services to the theatre, he received the 2010 Critics' Circle Award for Services to the Arts and became the first British playwright to receive both Olivier and Tony Special Lifetime Achievement Awards.