The comedy will play to Oct. 16 at The Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, England, where Ayckbourn was artistic director for many years, and where most of his plays premiered prior to an international life. Opening night is Sept. 21.
Laura Doddington, Liza Goddard, Laura Howard, Jamie Kenna, Ben Porter and Kim Wall are featured in the new play, which is billed this way: "With a few months of his life remaining, George Riley's closest friends remember with love, nostalgia or occasional bursts of downright fury, how deeply he has affected all their past lives. George, though, is plotting one last final farewell which threatens to upset all their future lives. What exactly is the eccentric maverick Riley playing at?"
Ayckbourn said in a statement, "Life of Riley is about a man who's dying. A man called George Riley who never actually appears, it's all his friends gathering around trying to sort him out in his final months. And unseen George sorts them out. There's always a dark side to humor. I always say that if you write a play with all light, you get snow-blind. You have to have shadows to appreciate lightness."
Ayckbourn — whose honors include the Sunday Times Literary Award for Excellence, Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Writers' Guild of Great Britain and the Variety Club of Great Britain, a 1997 knighthood for services to the theatre and the 2009 Laurence Olivier Awards' Special Award — is the author of The Norman Conquests, Bedroom Farce, Absurd Person Singular and many more.
Ayckbourn left as artistic director of the SJT in March 2009. Chris Monks succeeded him on April 1, 2009. The Life of Riley was preceded by a revival of Ayckbourn's Communicating Doors (to Oct. 8), also directed by the author and performed by the same cast as The Life of Riley. The U.S. premiere of The Life of Riley will happen at The Old Globe in spring 2011.
For more information, visit www.sjt.uk.com.