Taking Steps: A Farce

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S. French, 1981 - Humor - 78 pages
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Roland, a hard drinking tycoon, is considering buying an old Victorian house, once a brothel. His solicitor and the vendor, a builder, arrive to complete the deal. Also in the house are his wife, a frustrated dancer who is always considering leaving him, her brother and later the brother's fiance, who is uncertain whether or not to run away. In the course of one hectic night and morning, with continual running up and downstairs and in and out of rooms, these characters, each immersed in a personal problem, try to sort themselves out. The first act curtain finds the solicitor in bed with the wife thinking her to be a ghost and the fiance inadvertently shut in the attic cupboard by the distraught tycoon who has taken refuge there in the spare bed. All this takes place in a highly ingenious and original setting in which all the rooms, passages and stairs are on a single level."

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Contents

Section 1
42
Section 2
73
Section 3
75
Copyright

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About the author (1981)

Many American tourists who flock to the annual Ayckbourn offering in London's West End, think of Alan Ayckbourn as Great Britain's Neil Simon. The analogy holds true to the extent that the relationship between Ayckbourn's and Simon's plays illustrates the difference between British and American theater and audiences. Both writers capture the social machinations of middle-class characters in daily situations that are made compelling simply by the addition of clever but conventional plots, dramatic intrigues, twists, and discoveries. However, where Simon's plays tend to evolve into a condition of broad pathos or comedy, luxuriating in bittersweet melodrama, Ayckbourn's offerings revel in ever increasing intricacy, sharply incisive verbal dueling, and a dark social resonance that sounds much greater depths than in Simon's drama. Ayckbourn's scripts embody boggling challenges for directors and actors as well as audiences. Intimate Exchanges (1985), for example, a sequence of plays for ten characters played by only two actors, involves numerous moments when an actor chooses to send the script off on one of two alternative directions. The Norman Conquests (1975) typifies Ayckbourn's determination to squeeze as much as possible out of a dramatic construct. The trilogy's first play, Table Manners, offers a typical Ayckbourn scenario with family traumas played against each other in the constrained setting of a dining room. In the second and third plays, Living Together and Round and Round the Garden, the audience is exposed to simultaneous layers of action that occur in two other venues, the living room and garden, when characters are not onstage in the dining room. Each play makes sense on its own, but the trilogy taken as a whole embodies a vision of this family that is larger than the sum of the individual parts. Aychbourn has also been known for rather experimental staging. The Way Upstream (1982), for example, is set on and around a boat and requires flooding the stage. Ayckbourn's later plays reflect a bleak vision of society. In Woman in Mind (1985) and Henceforward (1987), Aychbourn's characters have become increasingly complex, and he reveals himself as an intense social commentator. Other recent plays include It Could Be Any One of Us (1983), Man of the Moment (1990), and Body Language (1991). Since the 1970s, Ayckbourn has written at least one play a season; the premieres are always at a small local theater that he runs in the resort town of Scarborough. 020

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