Review: Surprises

Surprises.  Photo: Robert Day
Surprises. Photo: Robert Day
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Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough

What happens when love runs out? Is there an expiration date on infatuation?

These are the questions that lay at the heart of Alan Ayckbourn’s latest, very odd, play. Set in a not too distant future, it throws us way into the distant future where people can expect to live 180 years. Funny idea, right? Actually, not really.

If hearts, hips and any other part of our not-too solid flesh can be replaced, making immortality an ever more real possibility, what does it mean for our lives? ‘Once in a lifetime’ takes on a whole different meaning if we survive far beyond three score and ten. These are the fascinating questions that Ayckbourn wonders about aloud on stage in a play that couldn’t really be further from the domesticity of Absurd Person Singular, with which it appears in Scarborough this summer in rep.

A three act play that propels the audience through several decades in each of its acts, it is fair to describe it as mind bending, yet within the high concept Sci-Fi, there is tiny human drama that argues from the time of Shakespeare to 400 years hence, with human being, ‘twas ever thus.

It is an odd play and some audiences may be uncomfortable with the more sci-fi aspects if they are expecting vintage Ayckbourn, but scratch the surface and you will find the master at work and a cast that are universally stunning, particularly Laura Doddington as a heartbreaking heartbroken PA.

To Oct 13.