Time And Time Again: World Premiere Reviews

This page contains reviews of the world premiere production of Alan Ayckbourn's Time And Time Again at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, in July 1971. It is not a complete set of reviews as the aim of the page is to offer a flavour of how the play was originally received and to offer a cross-section of opinion. All reviews on this page are the copyright of the respective publication and / or author and should not be reproduced. Extracts from reviews of the original West End production of Time And Time Again can be found here.

Time And Time Again (by Robin Thornber)
"Time and time again Alan Ayckbourn has written a fresh, light comedy for the summer season of theatre-in-the-round at Scarborough Library. And time and time again his effervescent farces have swept through the West End, the reps, and the amateur dramatic societies as if the world had been waiting for his latest quip.
Relatively Speaking was of course the most popular, but How The Other Half Lives has now run for more than a year on Shaftesbury Avenue, and The Story So Far..., which was launched here last year, is due to open in London in the autumn. And already there is now another one in the pipeline.
Time And Time Again follows the same formula of contemporary boulevard comedy, light enough to be commercial, sophisticated enough to be respectable, and with enough wry social observation to be worthwhile. But this one has a new maturity - a slower more effective pace, and deeper ambivalence. Not many farces have such a touching, complex antihero as Leonard (Christopher Godwin), the divorcee who conducts a furtive affair with the fiancée (Gil Osborne) of his clean-cut friend Peter (Tim Meats), through the seasons of the sporting calendar, from the promise of spring cricket to autumn's football denouement. But Anna (Eve Shickle) his mouse-wife sister, fretting over domestic arrangements, and Graham (Roger Kemp) his boring know-all, brother-in-law, are familiar enough, and the traditional Ayckbourn comic invention is there when the lovers fall - literally - snogging into the garden pond.
The startling set, combining a sun lounge, neglected garden, and sports ground fringe on one arena stage, is a typically ingenious Ayckbourn device - and a challenge to anyone who's thinking of transferring this production directed by the author. The first night had its technical snags (most crucially, it was never explained why Anna rather than Leonard inherited their mother's house). But it will be worth sorting them out. And that's what Scarborough lets Alan Ayckbourn do."
(The Guardian, 10 July 1971)

New Ayckbourn comedy opens at Scarborough Library
"The world premiere of Alan Ayckbourn's 12th play*,
Time And Time Again, and his ninth to have it initial presentation "in-the-round" at Scarborough, opened on July 8 at the Library Theatre, where, in spite of the sweltering heat, it received a good ovation.
Mr Ayckbourn, who specialises in comedies based on a very keen observation of ordinary folk, appears to have another success with this latest comedy if the continuous laughter of the opening night audience is any guide.
The action of the play takes place in the sun lounge and the garden (complete with fish pond and a gnome called Fred** at the home of Graham Baker, a clever-head know-it-all, aptly portrayed by Roger Kemp, his wife Anna (Eve Shackle) and her brother, who lives with them, Leonard (Christopher Godwin), a weak character who doesn't like work, said to be an ex-schoolmaster, who likes to sit in the garden and quote poetry. They are joined by Peter (Tim Meats) who works for Graham, and his fiancée, Joan (Gil Osborne), but when Graham starts making passes at her she goes into the garden, meets Leonard, and the fun starts when he dares her to stick her tongue out at Graham.
She does, and with doing so seems to change from a prim little miss into a hot-blooded minx, falling in love with Leonard, meeting clandestinely in the garden late at night, climbing all over him and continuously hugging him and telling him she loves him. So ardent is she that while having a midnight paddle they both fall full length into the fishpond. Eventually she presses him to tell Peter about their love but Leonard is far too weak and it falls to Anna to break the news. Peter misunderstands, believes it is Graham and attacks him. An all-in scuffle ensues in which Anna joins in defence of her husband. Leonard, still the coward, looks on and Joan is left well and truly disillusioned.
The play which could do with tightening up, and a little more action to liven the first act, is said to have been written in about six days and was only completed by Mr. Ayckbourn the previous week, owes much to the five dedicated players who were rehearsing it under the author's direction within half an hour of curtain up."
(The Stage, 22 July 1971)

*
Time And Time Again is actually Alan Ayckbourn's 11th full-length play.
**The gnome in
Time And Time Again is actually called Bernard and at no point was it ever named Fred.

They Laughed "Time And Time Again"
"It was hot at the theatre-in-the-round in Scarborough Library last night, but what probably made people hotter was the uncontrollable
laughter engendered by Alan Ayckbourn's new comedy.
Time And Time Again, which had its world premiere at the theatre last night, was so funny it could possibly have been true, for there is nothing funnier than folk. Though the play does rely to some extent on situations it relies mainly on the hilarity of the characters.
A story of crossed wires - one man who falls in love with another man's fiancée - has the typical Alan Ayckbourn twist.
The scene is set in the garden and sun lounge belonging to a middle-aged business man and his wife. Graham Baker, the business man, played by Roger Kemp, is a loud-mouthed down-to-earth character. He and his wife Anna (Eve Shickle) are making polite conversation for their employee's fiancée over tea - after burying Anna's mother. Meanwhile Anna's brother Leonard (Christopher Godwin) is out in the garden looking on as the outsider.
Leonard, the weak, sickly-looking ex-schoolmaster, regards his brother-in-law as a most objectionable sort of man and delights in letting everybody know about it.
Gil Osborne plays Joan, the fiancée of Peter (Tim Meats). So when she gets the unwelcome attentions of her future husband's employer she finds herself in an awkward position.
She escapes to the garden where Leonard persuades her to stick her tongue out at Graham for badness.
It is a situation where each character lives in his own little world and at times each one is oblivious to the general gist of conversation among the others - with hilarious results.
Joan is the prim and proper bespectacled young secretary who overnight becomes a rampant young temptress.
And Leonard takes on a new lease of life so that he can see more of her. The results for him are disastrous, but for the audience a great giggle.
Peter cannot reckon it up and Graham and Anna are far too busy thinking about their new bungalow and the trivia of life to realise what is going on.
And so the lovers go cavorting around the garden with midnight meetings and undying pledges of love. At one point they are so taken up with each other, dancing semi-clad in the goldfish pond, that they fall in full length - and rest there wet but happy while Leonard recites poetry and Graham potters about in the sun lounge without noticing them."
(Scarborough Evening News, 9 July 1971)

Comedy Written In Six Days Is A Hit
"Incredible though it may seem, for he took only six days to write his new comedy Time And Time Again, it looks as though Alan Ayckbourn has scored another rib-tickling hit.
The play was given its world premiere at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, last night. It will be staged there for a week and for a further three weeks before the end of the summer season in September.
Mr. Ayckbourn looks on the theatre in the round at Scarborough as being particularly the territory for his type of humour and a sardonic look at pomposity, and his new offering has all the deft thrusts and neat asides for the perfect blend.
There is an ingeniously designed set with a fine ornamental pond and an ever present gnome called Bernard. A riotous cricket match and pond dancing are two ingredients of this absorbing comedy.
Roger Kemp is splendid as the loud-mouthed know-it-all with Eve Shickle as his tea-making long-suffering spouse."
(Yorkshire Post, 9 July 1971)

All reviews are copyright of the respective publication.

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