How Scarborough playwright Sir Alan Ayckbourn became toast of New York

Sir Alan Ayckbourn
Sir Alan Ayckbourn
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American theatre audiences seem to have a developed a soft-spot for the work of playwright Sir Alan Ayckbourn.

Just days after being named in TIME magazine’s Top 10 shows of 2014, the Scarborough-based writer and director has again been commended by a leading New York critic.

Sir Alan’s 77th play Arrivals and Departures premiered at Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre last year, along with two shorts, Farcicals, and a revival of his 1992 play Time of My Life, before transferring to New York this summer. Staged as part of the Brits Off Broadway Festival, it was the company’s fifth visit to the States and the shows attracted rave reviews. Now in a round up of the year’s theatre highlights, New York Times’ chief theatre critic Ben Brantley has again heaped praise on the productions, describing the trio of plays as an “impeccably performed mini festival of Alan Ayckbourn”.

The comments echoed those of TIME theatre critic Richard Zoglin, who lauded “the British master’s knack for pushing stage boundaries while probing the sad drama of ordinary lives” and made mention of his direction which “never pushes for laughs or tears, but earns them both”.

Now 75 years old, Sir Alan said: “I’m delighted. Once again, the Stephen Joseph Theatre has shown that it’s right up there with the best of them.”