We're taking one of last summer season’s hit shows, Alan Ayckbourn’s A Brief History of Women, to the city to be part of the annual Brits Off Broadway festival organised by 59e59 Theaters. The show will be seen at the theatre – which is located at 59 East 59th Street – from 1 to 27 May.
American audiences will see the original Scarborough production with cast members Russell Dixon, Antony Eden, Frances Marshall, Laura Matthews, Laurence Pears and Louise Shuttleworth. The show is written and directed by Alan Ayckbourn, with set and costume design by Kevin Jenkins and lighting design by Jason Taylor.
It was part of a record-breaking season at the Stephen Joseph Theatre last summer which also included Jim Cartwright’s The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, Amelia Bullmore’s Di and Viv and Rose, Alan Ayckbourn’s Taking Steps and Ali Taylor’s Goth Weekend.
Brits Off Broadway has been described by The New York Times as ‘a highlight of the theatrical year in New York’. The SJT company has been part of the prestigious festival on six previous occasions since 2005.
The most recent visit was in 2016, when Alan Ayckbourn’s Hero’s Welcome and Confusions wowed the critics, with New York Times critic Ben Brantley highlighting both plays in his ‘NYT Critics’ Pick’ feature, saying of Hero’s Welcome: “So deft is Mr Ayckbourn’s dramatic shorthand that he can summon complete, quirkily detailed back stories for not one but three intersecting couples in a single, standard-length play. He manages to do so while engineering an elaborate plot, as full of twists and secrets as anything by Ibsen, in which everybody lies, including the British government.”
Of Confusions, he wrote: “These five one-acters also allow you to see clearly the basic building blocks from which Mr Ayckbourn constructs his more complex works. And even the silliest of them is steeped in the critical yet compassionate sensibility — call it sentimental cynicism — that is uniquely their creator’s.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Terry Teachout said: “In recent seasons 59E59 Theater’s Brits Off Broadway summer festival has been doing theater-loving New Yorkers a signal service by importing Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre, which Mr Ayckbourn ran for 37 years, to perform his stagings of his own plays.”
Alan Ayckbourn’s long association with the Stephen Joseph Theatre continues this summer with a revival of his 1978 hit Joking Apart (26 July to 4 October) and the world premiere of his 82nd play, Better Off Dead (6 September to 6 October). He will direct both productions, which are part of a season which also includes The 39 Steps, adapted from John Buchan’s novel and the Alfred Hitchcock film by Patrick Barlow, from an original concept by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon, and Build A Rocket by Chris York, both directed by Paul Robinson.