Dear Uncle, a new version of Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya adapted and directed by Ayckbourn, premieres at the SJT on July 7. Originally commissioned for the West End, the SJT is presenting the premiere by arrangement with commercial producers David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers. A London run starring Ralph Fiennes, directed by Matthew Warchus, was previously reported but has run into scheduling issues, so Ayckbourn will direct it himself at the regional theatre where he used to be artistic director. No firm word about Dear Uncle's commercial future has been announced. SJT did not announce cast or full creative team.
In Dear Uncle, according to SJT notes, "Marcus loves Eleanor although she's already married and can never be his. His schoolgirl niece Sonya is secretly in love with David, the family doctor and confirmed bachelor, which in her heart of hearts she knows is probably all in vain. As summer comedy grows into autumnal farce, things inevitably lead to winter regrets both for what has occurred and what might have been." The play is set in England's Lake District in 1935, offering "an affectionate English slant to the classic love story."
Ayckbourn will also direct the world premiere of his 75th play, Neighbourhood Watch, to open Sept. 8. This is the 300th new play to be commissioned by the SJT. According to the company, "Things are not right on The Bluebell Hill Development. Theft, petty crime, vandalism — all the ills of modern suburban existence — are on the increase. Newcomers Martin and his sister Hilda are the crime wave's latest victims — on the very day of their housewarming party, no less — and resolve to take action. This is Alan Ayckbourn's cautionary tale of the dangers of taking the law into your own hands."
Ayckbourn is the winner of a Lifetime Achievement Tony Award, which is among his many honors. His plays include Absurd Person Singular, The Norman Conquests, Season's Greetings, How the Other Half Loves, Absent Friends, Bedroom Farce, A Chorus of Disapproval and more.
The SJT summer season will also include: Arthur Miller's The Price April 5-30, a co-production between the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Octagon Theatre Bolton and Hull Truck Theatre, directed by Octagon Theatre's artistic director David Thacker.
Pam Gems' Marlene, a solo show with music about a late-career Marlene Dietrich reflecting on her life and work, directed by Chris Monks, opening May 26.
Two short plays: The Yalta Game (opening June 17) by Brian Friel and Elegy For A Lady (opening June 22) by Arthur Miller. Chris Monks directs.
Chris Monks' "passionately modern twist" on Georges Bizet's Carmen, "set in a run-down shopping mall in which feisty Carmen is drawn to the glamorous football superstar Tony Amor but tied to temperamental ex-soldier Johnny," opens July 28.
Following its successful run at the SJT last year, Alan Ayckbourn's comedy thriller Communicating Doors will tour the U.K. this summer opening at Guildford's Yvonne Arnaud Theatre on May 5. The production directed by Alan Ayckbourn will also tour to venues including Theatre Royal Brighton, Oxford Playhouse and Richmond Theatre. Full tour details will be announced in the near future.