Directed by Ayckbourn and Tim Luscombe, the plays, presented in rep, come direct from a sold-out run at Sir Alan's Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, England. Previews began at 59E59 May 31.
"Intimate Exchanges is an extraordinary theatrical event, where one character's dilemma — to smoke or not to smoke — kicks off eight separate plays with 16 different endings," according to production notes. "These eight plays can be seen in any order and the endings depend on what decisions the characters make during the play."
All eight plays feature two actors, Bill Champion and Claudia Elmhirst, who play a community of different characters.
The engagement continues to July 1. The opening-night play June 14 is A Garden Fête. All the works involve interrelated characters in a British village.
The single ticket price for one play is $55 ($38.50 for 59E59 members). Ayckbourn's 2005 box office record-breaking Brits Off Broadway hit Private Fears in Public Places got a lot of attention at 59E59. Commercial producers circled, but a transfer or independent run did not transpire.
The new cycle "follows the fortunes of headmaster Toby Teasdale and his long-suffering wife Celia, whose marriage is going through a bit of a sticky patch to say the least," according to notes. "What with suicidal friends, busybody neighbors, sexy school caretakers, pushy fathers and mad mothers-in-law to add to their troubles, will they ever be able to sort things out? Will it all end happily ever after? It all depends which ending you want to see!"
The plays in Intimate Exchanges include (remaining dates are in parentheses):Events on a Hotel Terrace (June 23 at 8 PM; June 27 at 8 PM) — "Celia Teasdale doesn't have the best relationship with her husband, headmaster Toby. So when temptation presents itself in the form of virile, young school caretaker, Lionel Hepplewick, what is Celia to do? Perhaps a holiday with Toby to help restore the marriage? But Lionel is a man smitten by love. And a Hepplewick's passion, once aroused, knows no boundaries."Affairs in a Tent (June 16 at 2 PM; June 19 at 8 PM; July 1 at 7 PM) — "Celia finally breaks free! But how can she hope to succeed as an independent entrepreneur when her choice of business partner is the unstable Lionel Hepplewick and she launches their enterprise in the VIP tea tent at the school sports day under the skeptical eye of her husband, Toby. When there's a crisis with the sandwiches and mayhem in the mothers' race, Miles secretly fears that all could end in madness."A One Man Protest (June 23 at 2 PM; June 26 at 8 PM) — "Flighty free spirit Rowena Coombes leads her poor husband Miles a terrible dance. Perhaps though, on reflection, choosing to barricade yourself inside your best friend Toby Teasdale's garden shed wasn't the best idea but then, this is an urgent cry for help. Unfortunately for Miles, his call is answered by not one but three very determined women."Love in the Mist (June 16 at 8 PM; June 20 at 8 PM; July 1 at 3 PM) — "Miles feels middle age beckoning. Perhaps it's time to take the plunge and embark on a romantic adventure. After all, it seems his wife, Rowena, is having romantic adventures with half the men in the village. Miles plans the holiday of a lifetime — all he needs is to share it with a sympathetic companion. But one man's dream can be another woman's nightmare."A Cricket Match (June 15 at 8 PM; June 24 at 7 PM; June 28 at 8 PM) —"United by unsatisfactory marriages, Miles Coombes and Celia Teasdale embark on a secret affair. But they make a glumly mismatched couple. What's the point anyway when the whole village knows and Miles' wife Rowena isn't the least bit jealous? And there are dangers for Celia in carrying on with her husband Toby's best friend, particularly when they're both on the same cricket team. A 'friendly' match gets out of hand…"A Game of Golf (June 17 at 7 PM; June 22 at 8 PM; June 30 at 2 PM) — "Celia intends to stand by Toby when he decides to turn over a new leaf. But his healthy new life style involves spending all day on the golf course with his best friend Miles. Neither Celia nor Miles' wife Rowena take kindly to becoming 'golf widows.' Unfortunately they choose to hold their showdown on the golf course in the middle of the Ladies' International Friendly Match, igniting the fury of the England skipper."A Pageant (June 17 at 3 PM; June 21 at 8 PM; June 30 at 8 PM) — "Sylvie Bell resolves to make a fresh start when stung by criticism from fiancé, Lionel. Out with the old, in with the new and Lionel is the first thing to go. The new starts with some self-improving private English Literature lessons from Toby. But Sylvie is caught in a tangle of marital repercussions. And Toby, struggling to stage the school's historical pageant, is caught between two warring Boadiceas, both intent on vengeance."
A Garden Fête (June 14 at 8 PM; June 24 at 3 PM; June 29 at 8 PM) — "Sometimes young Sylvie Bell feels that her whole life has been mapped out in advance. Marriage to Lionel Hepplewick, producing several children, never moving more than a few miles away, probably dying in the same house she was born in. Occasionally, Sylvie dreams of bigger and more exciting things. All she needs is a little extra education. But is alcoholic headmaster Toby Teasdale the man to provide it for her?" Intimate Exchanges has a set design by Michael Holt and lighting designed by Ben Vickers.
Alan Ayckbourn is the author of over 65 plays, including Relatively Speaking, Absurd Person Singular, The Norman Conquests, Just Between Ourselves, Bedroom Farce, A Chorus of Disapproval, Woman in Mind, Comic Potential and Things We Do for Love.
Tim Luscombe (co-director) has directed plays on Broadway and the West End as well as internationally and around the U.K.
For customers purchasing tickets to more than one play, the ticket price is $50 each play for two; $45 each play for three; $40 each play for four or more.
Single tickets are $55. To purchase all eight plays, the price is $288. To qualify for the discounts, tickets to each play must be purchased together. To purchase tickets, call Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 or go to www.ticketcentral.com. For more information, visit www.59e59.org or www.britsoffbroadway.com.