Ingenious Ayckbourn's 87th


The cast of Ayckbourn's "Family Album" (l-r) Georgia Burnell, Tanya-Loretta Dee, Antony Eden, Frances Marshall and Elizabeth Boag. Pics: Turnstone Media
The cast of Ayckbourn's "Family Album" (l-r) Georgia Burnell, Tanya-Loretta Dee, Antony Eden, Frances Marshall and Elizabeth Boag. Pics: Turnstone Media

In one of his most ingenious theatrical coups yet, Alan Ayckbourn's 87th play – premiering at Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre in the autumn season (September 2-October 1) – features three time periods over 70 years, all shown simultaneously.

Directed by the author, Family Album chronicles three generations of a family in the same home: a moving-in day in 1952; a birthday party in 1992, and a moving-out day in 2022.

Ayckbourn said: “My inspiration for Family Album was a programme on BBC4, A House Through Time, which was a fascinating piece of social history. I thought I could do this on a smaller scale.

"I didn’t want to go back centuries, so I started within my lifetime, in the 1950s. We have three time periods layered on top of each other, happening at the same time in the same house, following a family from the grandparents in 1952 to the children in 1992, and then the grandchildren today.

“For me it’s new: I’ve used time so much – backwards and forwards, sideways and occasionally even forwards and backwards simultaneously and at different speeds. But never this way.”

In 1952, housewife Peggy (Georgia Burnell) and RAF veteran John (Antony Eden) proudly move into their first home. In 1992 daughter Sandra (Frances Marshall), frantically negotiates the challenges of a 10-year-old’s birthday party without her AWOL husband, and in 2022, granddaughter Alison (Elizabeth Boag) and her partner Jess (Tanya-Loretta Dee) are escaping the house she has somewhat unwillingly inherited.

After the Scarborough premiere, Family Album goes to the New Vic in Newcastle-under-Lyme (October 11-22) and The Old Laundry Theatre, Bowness (November 1-5).