Press Release: Alan Ayckbourn's New Play & Classic Revival for SJT in 2018

Alan Ayckbourn's New Play & Classic Revival for Stephen Joseph Theatre in 2018

Joking Apart: 26 July - 4 October 2018 (in rep) at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
Better Off Dead: 6 September - 6 October 2018 (in rep) at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough

The Stephen Joseph Theatre presents the world premiere of Better Off Dead and 40th anniversary revival of Joking Apart
Written and directed by Alan Ayckbourn

The 40th anniversary of an Ayckbourn classic and a new play have been announced for summer 2018 by the Stephen Joseph Theatre.
Alan Ayckbourn will be directing two productions of his own work this summer at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, with the 40th anniversary production of
Joking Apart and the world premiere of Better Off Dead.
First seen at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round in 1978,
Joking Apart is not only as a classic Ayckbourn play but is also regarded by the playwright as one of his favourite plays from his long playwriting career. The play transferred to the West End in 1979 with Alan Ayckbourn last reviving it in 2002 at the Stephen Joseph Theatre. It is a popular piece in the playwright's canon and frequently revived by both professional and amateur companies.
"The play was written when the 38-year-old author was confronted by his eighteen-year-old son, who was suddenly adult and growing more so each passing day. I think with
Joking Apart I began to feel my age," said the playwright. "Having written about so many unhappy couples, I was also challenged to write a play about a really happy, contented couple. The result was Richard and Anthea. But, as always, I became far more interested in what this blissful happiness did to the people around this couple. It’s really a play about winners and losers."
Set over 12 years, the play revolves around a 'golden' couple Richard and Anthea to whom success and life apparently come very easily. But how does that affect friends, family, business partners and neighbours struggling to compete or just cope with the golden couple?
Better Off Dead is Alan Ayckbourn's 82nd play and will premiere at the end of the summer season at the Stephen Joseph Theatre and centres on a reclusive writer.
"Steve Freeman (Executive Director] and Paul Robinson [Artistic Director] gave me such impetus I wrote this year's play early last year! This is a play about a reclusive writer of detective fiction who lives in the wilds of North Yorkshire, who - with great reluctance - grants an interview with a contemporary of his who claims to have been at school with him - although Algy the writer can't remember a thing about him - and what develops from this meeting."
Joking Apart and Better Off Dead will join a season which also includes Patrick Barlow's The 39 Steps and a new play Build A Rocket by Chris York, both to be directed by Paul Robinson. 2018 will also see the transfer of Alan Ayckbourn's most recent play, A Brief History of Women, to New York as part of the Brits Off Broadway festival from 1 - 27 May 2018.
Joking Apart can be seen at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough from 26 July - 4 October, 2018, with Better Off Dead joining it from 6 September to 6 October 2018. Tickets are on sale via from 19 February 2018 at

Updated on 2 January 2018.