Tag Archives: Alan Ayckbourn

Review: A Small Family Business, Olivier Theatre

Most Alan Ayckbourn works well in smaller theatres but this was written for the Olivier and works well in it. Dating from the 1980s, it is a critique of the corrupt selfishness encouraged by Thatcher, so this is an apt time to revive it. Gawn Grainger is Ken Ayres, a man who prides himself on his honesty and decency, brought in to manage the furniture company run by his wife’s aging father and root out the corruption that is damaging it. He starts off as someone who would never take a pen or some paper clips from work and ends up getting mired in the corruption around him. With such a heavy underlying theme, this is not one of Aycknbourn’s funniest plays but it manages to make you laugh and to make you thing.

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Review: Invincible, Orange Tree Theatre

This starts off like a simple comedy of class, manners and politics. Middle class couple decide to move Up North to live among “real people” only to find they don’t like “real people” and have nothing in common. Some of the jokes are a bit obvious as when their working class neighbour picks up Das Kapital and says it’s a bit too intellectual for him – he loves Laurel and Hardy but could never understand the Marx brothers. After setting us up nicely and getting some decent laughs in part one, part two turns darker, deeper and even funnier. I don’t want to give away what happens but it is much, much more than a simple class comedy. Torben Betts was discovered by Alan Ayckbourn and the script may seem derivative of Ayckbourn’s work but if it had been written by Ayckbourn it would  be classed as one of his best. It was deservedly sold out on Friday but you might get lucky on midweek performances.