Dark comedy from the pen of a master

Joking Apart at Nottingham Playhouse''Photo by Robert Day
Joking Apart at Nottingham Playhouse''Photo by Robert Day

Joking Apart is a play by the prolific and legendary Alan Ayckbourn and can be seen at Nottingham Playhouse from January 26-February 16.

It is a dark comedy about friends you love to hate, and hate to love.

It has been over ten years since an Ayckbourn play has been staged at Nottingham Playhouse, and Joking Apart is one of his darker and lesser-known plays.

Set over 12 years, spanning the late 1960s and 1970s, the play tells the story of Richard and Anthea, a seemingly perfect couple who their friends and neighbours hate to love.

Inspired by someone asking Alan why he never wrote plays about happy couples, Joking Apart explores the profound effect Richard and Anthea’s happiness has on the lives of those around them.

Of all his 76 plays to date, Ayckbourn has frequently said that Joking Apart is one of his favourites.

Written in December 1977, the play premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round on January 12, 1978. Played out in the same back garden over a 12-year period, this painfully funny play explores the unrelenting themes of ageing, jealousy and unrequited love.

Richard and Anthea are the ideal couple. Charming, generous and successful, they can’t help but attract loyal and loving friends. Can they? Is it possible that being friends with such a golden couple can have its downfalls? Could you actually come to loathe such lovable people, especially when they are so… well… ‘nice’? Richard, Anthea and their friends repeatedly gather to relax and compete, both on and off the tennis court, as their private agonies emerge to devastating effect.

Joking Apart is a co-production with Salisbury Playhouse. For ticket details, call the box office on 0115 9419419.