Alan Ayckbourn’s Birthdays Past, Birthdays Present

As Alan Ayckbourn celebrates his 80th birthday, his latest play has opened at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough.

Birthdays Past, Birthdays Present is the author’s 83rd play, and premieres in the year of his 80th birthday and the 60th anniversary of his playwriting debut in 1959.

Naomi Petersen & Jamie Baughan in Birthdays Past, Birthdays Present
© Tony Bartholomew

Directed by the author, the play stars Jamie Baughan, Jemma Churchill, Russell Dixon and Naomi Petersen. Design is by Kevin Jenkins and lighting design by Jason Taylor. The Associate Sound Designer is Paul Stear.

It’s Micky’s 80th birthday, and he and his wife Meg are awaiting the arrival of their son, Adrian, and his new (and latest!) fiancée, Grace.

Jamie Baughan & Russell Dixon in Birthdays Past, Birthdays Present
© Tony Bartholomew

Adrian has, according to his parents, a certain reputation regarding women, and they feel meek, mild-mannered Grace should surely be warned of this. But are things really as they appear? As birthday follows birthday, the truth is finally revealed about Adrian, the suburban closet Lothario.

Jemma Churchill in Birthdays Past, Birthdays Present
© Tony Bartholomew

Alan Ayckbourn says: “It’s no coincidence that this is a special year for me, being my 80th. I like to pin things on anniversaries, and I thought ‘why not birthdays?’

“But it’s a bit conventional to have one person maybe having his 20th birthday and his 50th and then 80th birthdays, so I thought it would be fun to do it backwards.

“Usually in plays, we see the cause first and the effects follow on, but in this case, we see the effect first and our first question is, just how did we get there?

“It’s really a story about a man who’s trying to deal with and understand women; it’s a sort of companion piece to my 2017 play, A Brief History Of Women.”

Naomi Petersen & Jamie Baughan in Birthdays Past, Birthdays Present
© Tony Bartholomew

Birthdays Past, Birthdays Present can be seen in the Round at the SJT, in rep, until Saturday 5 October 2019. Tickets, priced from £10, are available from the box office on 01723 370541 and online at www.sjt.uk.com.

It is the first event of a busy celebration month for the playwright at the Stephen Joseph Theatre: on Thursday 12 September at 4.30pm, the playwright will be launching his first novel, The Divide; the first Ayckbourn Film Festival is running from Friday 20 to Sunday 22 September; he will be hosting 80 Years Young, an event celebrating his birthdays and plays with his acting companies on Sunday 29 September from 6pm. Details of all these events can be found at www.sjt.uk.com.

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