Home Musical play Family Album Review – Alan Ayckbourn’s funny and moving new play on women’s lives | Alan Ayckbourn

Family Album Review – Alan Ayckbourn’s funny and moving new play on women’s lives | Alan Ayckbourn


AIan Ayckbourn’s 87th play masterfully uses time, space and the audience’s imagination. Set in the living room of a middle-class South London home, it features the experiences of three generations of women from one family, reflecting through them wider social changes in the world beyond.

The action takes place over three distinct periods: 1952, 1992 and 2022. The characters from each period appear in the same space at the same time, but do not know each other. Through this layering, Ayckbourn (who also directs) and his formidable team of actors and creatives create a kind of visual music, as objects, movements and actions resonate through time, amplifying the text. The overall effect is sometimes funny, sometimes moving, sometimes both together; always stimulating.

I will sketch a few brief examples. Arriving in the empty house in 1952, full of hope, Margaret (Georgia Burnell) asks the movers to place her parents’ Victorian sofa in front of the window, so that she can enjoy the view. ” Do not listen to him ! barks her husband, John (Antony Eden), asking them to reposition him. Margaret’s horizons – domestic and metaphorical – are closing. Their daughter, Sandra (Frances Marshall), is talented; Will Jean give him the same education as his brother? “Waste of time!” he declares.

As her parents talk, we watch the adult, 1992 Sandra stagger drunkenly across the room (as tragic here as before, she was hilariously, frantically yo-yoing between a backstage children’s party and lying phone calls from her absent husband). Meanwhile, in 2022, Sandra’s daughter Alison (Elizabeth Boag) inherited the house. She and her wife, Jess (Tanya-Loretta Dee), prepare to move out. The couple’s relationship offers proof that change is possible and suggests hope for the future. As Alison leaves the empty house, shedding her physical heritage, one question lingers: will her psychic heritage be so easily left behind?