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Should have checked on Google first

Christopher and I really used to enjoy going to Alan Ayckbourn plays. It didn’t really matter whether they were professional productions in Malvern, Worcester, or on occasions London, or am-dram affairs in a village hall somewhere, we would always make an effort to go. Indeed, provided we recalibrated our expectations, the amateur productions (often with a glass of warm white wine thrown in at the interval) were just as enjoyable as the professional ones. You generally know what you’re getting with an Ayckbourn play – black humour, with reliable laughs. Even sub-standard plays by him are fun, and vintage ones are great fun.

So when I saw that Malvern Theatres was showing the very latest Ayckbourn play, Life of Riley, I had no hesitation in buying myself a ticket for yesterday’s matinée. The first 15 minutes were a bit slow, as all the characters were introduced. But then it became clear that the title character, George Riley, had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer and had just six months to live.  The humour of the play lay in his friends’ reactions to George’s imminent demise, but it was all a bit too close to home  to me for comfort.

I did think about leaving at the interval, but decided that would be cowardly. The second half was funnier than the first, and I did laugh out loud a few times, but I was braced the whole time for more uncomfortable plot twists – including the funeral that formed the final scene. I spent the whole play sitting rigidly bolt-upright and had a stinking migraine by the final curtain.

Next time,  I think I’d better check the plot synopsis on Google first, before buying a ticket!


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  1. […] the last play I went to turned out to be a “comedy” about the effects that someone dying of cancer has on their […]