Festival 2012

Surprises

By Alan Ayckbourn

Surprises

Surprises

Minerva Theatre

8 Aug - 8 Sep 2012

Overview

'Parks and Stacey convey wonderfully the humour of social awkwardness'

Daily Express

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 is a new comedy by Alan Ayckbourn with its head in the future and its heart in the past. Read an interview with Alan Ayckbourn.

Listen to our pre-show talk, Opening Up Surprises

Surprises is Alan Ayckbourn’s 76th play in a career spanning over 50 years; he recently became the first British playwright to receive both Olivier and Tony Special Lifetime Achievement Awards and was knighted for services to the theatre in 1997.

Please note this production will be performed in the round.

Surprises and Absurd Person Singular are part of the London 2012 Festival - a chance for everyone to celebrate London 2012 through dance, music, theatre, the visual arts, fashion, film and digital innovation across the UK. Find out more at london2012.com/festival.

Surprises is co-produced with the Stephen Joseph Theatre Scarborough

Surprises is sponsored by

Festival 2012

Oldham Seals Group

Oldham Seals Group

Baker Tilly

Baker Tilly


Reviews

The Public Reviews
4 Star Rating

Set sometime in the fairly distant future and, in the second and third acts, some fifty and sixty years later, the story begins with the age old problem of a father not wanting his precious daughter to throw herself away on a worthless suitor. This simple enough plot is complicated by the possibility of time-travel, which is in the process of development. The to-ing and fro-ing through the decades in order to prevent someone from doing something (or to make sure that they do) plus a willingness to accept the impossible, requires a degree of concentration from the audience which can be quite tiring.

The daughter in question, Grace, played by Ayesha Antoine, is an exasperating teenager, caught in the limbo between childhood and womanhood, and Bill Champion plays her duly exasperated father, Franklin, a wealthy businessman. All is very normal until she is visited by her young suitor in the form he will attain fifty years hence.

In Act II that is where we are, fifty years hence. In Franklin’s offices, with his lawyer, the despotic but unhappy Lorraine (Sarah Parks) and her “Celebrity Chef” husband Conrad, (Ben Porter) who also plays Titus, the adult version of Tim, Grace’s boyfriend.

Lorraine’s staff include the human Sylvia (Laura Doddington) her secretary and Jan, the android security and maintenance android, played by Richard Stacey whose performance was truly remarkable. There is a theory held by many women that all men feature somewhere on the autism scale and his sympathetic and loveable characterisation virtually proves it.

Played in the round in the futuristic sets of designer Michael Holt, the play is, unusually for these times, in three acts. The advantage of this is that the two intervals give the audience a chance to digest what they have seen. By the end of Act III two marriages are over, androids have become nearly human and human beings, with technical assistance, have become nearly android and everyone lives happily ever after. Other parts, and there are seven of them, are, as they say, played by members of the cast and several disembodied voices.

A complicated play, which probably needs seeing at least twice in order to follow the details of the story, its main message is that however attractive time travel may seem, it is really better to keep future events as “Surprises”.


The Company

Creative Team

Alan Ayckbourn

Director

Alan Ayckbourn

Michael Holt

Designer

Michael Holt

Sarah Hughes

Casting Director

Sarah Hughes

Jason Taylor

Lighting Designer

Jason Taylor


Cast

Ayesha Antoine

Ayesha Antoine

Grace / Seraphina

Bill Champion

Bill Champion

Franklin

Laura Doddington

Laura Doddington

Zandy / Sylvia

Sarah Parks

Sarah Parks

Inez / Lorraine / Belina

Ben Porter

Ben Porter

Titus / Conrad

Richard Stacey

Richard Stacey

Gorman / Jan / Fabiano



Booking Info

Running time: 2 hours 55 minutes (including two 15 minute intervals)

Tickets:

Previews/Press Nights £23.50
Evenings/Matinees £29.50

Discounts and concessions available
Terms & Conditions



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