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Clever blend of comedy and tragedy; REVIEW.


In Conversation With Sir Alan Ayckbourn and Arrivals and Departures WARWICK ARTS CENTRE IN SIR Alan Ayckbourn's plays there are no "stars".

Aided by a walking stick, the playwright entered the packed lecture hall at Warwick Art Centre's Woods-Scawen Room to rapturous applause.

Talking to biographer Paul Allen about his feud with the West End over its insistence on "star casting", he said: "My works are written for five, not one plus four.

"I have had beautiful performances from star actors, but it becomes overburdened by expectations from the audience. If Jude Law was to walk on stage desperately trying not to look like himself the audience are disappointed and say 'oh he doesn't look like he does on telly'."

The 75-year-old writer/ director, who suffered a stroke in 2006, was in good humour eloquently recounting amusing anecdotes about his life as young actor and dramatist.

Arrivals and Departures is his 77th play. Sir Alan directs a 13-strong cast, including two children, from the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborourgh, near his home.

Set in a railway station, this absorbing drama centres on the relationship between two strangers - Ez, a 23-year-old disenchanted female soldier and chirpy middle-aged Yorkshire traffic warden Barry.

The pair are caught in a top secret military operation to catch a terrorist who Barry ticketed in Harrogate. Artfully constructed, the first half tells Ez's backstory revealing her distance and fragile state-ofmind; while in the second half the story is retold with Barry's life in flashbacks.

But it is the conversation, or lack of it, between the mismatched couple that is really riveting to watch, uncomfortable and incredibly funny. The play cleverly blends comedy and tragedy, Sir Alan's preoccupation with the passing of time, and an exploration of father-daughter relationships.

Kim Wall gave an outstanding performance as Barry, his comic-timing was impeccable, Elizabeth Boag as the stony-faced Ez was fascinating; while Terence Booth's meticulous Major Quentin was hugely entertaining. Runs again today at 2.30pm and 7.30pm and Saturday at 7.30pm.



Sir Alan Ayckbourn directs a 13-strong cast, including two children in Arrivals and Departures
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Feb 13, 2014
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