Neighbourhood Watch, Alan Ayckbourn's Latest "Dark Farce," Begins World-Premiere Run in England | Playbill

News Neighbourhood Watch, Alan Ayckbourn's Latest "Dark Farce," Begins World-Premiere Run in England
The world premiere of Alan Ayckbourn's 75th play, Neighbourhood Watch, begins Sept. 8 and runs to Oct. 15 at his longtime artistic home, The Stephen Joseph Theatre Company in Scarborough, England.

Sir Alan Ayckbourn
Sir Alan Ayckbourn Photo by Tim Bartholomew

The troupe includes Eileen Battye, Terence Booth, Phil Cheadle, Matthew Cottle, Richard Derrington, Frances Grey, Amy Loughton and Alexandra Mathie. Opening is Sept. 13.

The production will travel to Manhattan for a run starting Nov. 30 at Off-Broadway's 59E59 Theaters. It will play New York to Jan. 1, 2012, as part of 59E59 Theaters' Brits Off Broadway series.

According to SJT, "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. After all, the law of the land, all that's right and proper and even God Himself are surely on their side. But what starts out as a well intentioned neighborhood watch scheme soon develops into something altogether more sinister. In these matters, it seems the frying pan is closer to the fire than anyone realizes."

Ayckbourn said in a statement, "Neighbourhood Watch is a cautionary play. It addresses modern hang-ups such as law and order, health and safety. It's in my dark farce mode. I've always been interested in how, out of tiny things, wars are often fought. Whenever history is examined, you always say: 'Is that really what started it?' Helen of Troy was responsible for an awful lot!"

Neighbourhood Watch is the fourth SJT production to tour to New York following the success of Private Fears in Public Places, Intimate Exchanges and My Wonderful Day. The three productions received critical acclaim and were nominated for a total of five Drama Desk Awards. Neighbourhood Watch is the 300th new play to be commissioned by the SJT, which used to be under the artistic directorship of Ayckbourn, who was appointed a CBE in 1987, knighted for services to the theatre in 1997, awarded The Laurence Olivier Awards Special Award in 2009, and given the 2010 Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in Theatre.

Ayckbourn's 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.

Dear Uncle, a new version of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, adapted and directed by Alan Ayckbourn, runs at the SJT until Sept. 30, with the same cast that is now rehearsing Neighbourhood Watch. For more, visit

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