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TITLE: Joking Apart

PLAYWRIGHT: Alan Ayckbourn

PERFORMANCE DATES: 15th - 17th May 2003

DIRECTOR: Vicky Stocks


Richard - David Lane

Anthea - Nicki Clay

Hugh - David Belbin

Louise - Barbara Hardcastle

Sven - Terry Brown

Olive - Alma Belbin

Brian - Ian Brandt

Melody - Jill Pearson

Mandy - Doreen Stockdale

Mo - Kate Newall

Debbie - Lucy Skilbeck



Joking Apart is set in Richard and Anthea’s garden over twelve years on bonfire night, a summer tennis party, boxing day and their daughter Debbie’s 18th birthday.


Richard and Anthea are a perfect unmarried couple, to whom everything comes very easily and whose genuine generosity, success and sensitivity seem to reflect badly on those around them. Over the 12 years we see Richard’s business partner Sven and his wife, Olive, become increasingly depressed at the ease of Richard’s success, despite Sven working so hard he eventually has a heart attack which drives him to deep bitterness at the unfairness of life.  


Brian, an employee, has a constant string of young girlfriends, all of whom are substitutes for Anthea, whom he has been obsessed with since he gave her shelter after the break up of her first marriage. Finally, there are the new neighbours, the vicar Hugh and his wife Louise.  


After Richard tears down the garden fence to make a larger communal garden for Hugh, the vicar misinterprets some interest in him from Anthea as a sign of love and he becomes possessed by the belief he is married to the wrong woman. His declaration of his love for Anthea leaves her genuinely confounded and helps drive Louise, combined with her inability to raise or communicate with her son, into manic depression.


All are left poorer people by their relationship with Richard and Anthea, who are unaware that anything is wrong in their perfect world.

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