Review: Anno Domino at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough (Audio Play)

Writer, Director & Performer: Alan Ayckbourn

Performer: Heather Stoney

Final Mix: Paul Steer

‘Life still goes on doesn’t it?’ is the concluding line in Alan Ayckbourn’s new play which has been written specially to be broadcast as an audio play. Ayckbourn has taken lockdown as an opportunity to write, direct and perform in this brand new play, alongside his wife Heather Stoney. This audio play produced for The Stephen Joseph Theatre is a touching drama looking at communication.

Ayckbourn’s script centres on one family of couples who come together to celebrate Sam and Milly’s 25th Wedding Anniversary. However, as with the rest of Ayckbourn’s work, things aren’t as they seem and Sam and Milly’s celebration turns out to be an announcement.

In the repercussion of that announcement, a variety of relationships unfold. You get to see how the relationship between each character varies based on their perception of each other and how open they are. From the tricky relationship between Ella and her daughter Martha to the flourishing relationship that Ben has with his Grandson and Martha’s son Raz.

Communication is at the heart of the play and it explores the challenges when it’s strained and the impact it can have. It looks at both, those who aren’t as willing to come forward with their thoughts, as well as those who talk at the expense of listening to overs. It also hints at and provokes thought on other subjects like the perception of gender, youth and mental health.

Heather Stoney and Ayckbourn create the voices of each of the eight characters, every character is unique which make the audio play easy to follow. While potentially the character of Yaz could have potentially benefited from having different vocal pitches to fully encapture the moment he has with his mum Martha, it still pulls at the heartstrings nonetheless.

Ayckbourn’s 84th play may be different to the rest and may have been written, directed and all performed in the same four walls but that doesn’t take away it’s impact. This though provoking production is full of wit and clever language that makes it all the more gripping.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

5money*This production was streamed for free. However, if you can please donate what you can to the Stephen Joseph Theatre here. Click here for more information on The Value For Money Rating

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