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Alan Ayckbourn

May 11, 2007

By David Lefkowitz

The simple play is not for Alan Ayckbourn. Take the upcoming Intimate Exchanges. It spins off into eight different plays and 16 different finales.

Though penned in 1982 and produced twice by his home theater in Scarborough, the closest Alan Ayckbourn's Intimate Exchanges has come to Manhattan is a 1998 mounting in New Rochelle. That changes May 31-July 1, when Ayckbourn's complex, multi-ending comedy receives its New York premiere as part of the annual Brits Off Broadway Festival (

Co-directed by the author and Tim Luscombe(as it was in the 2006 Scarborough revival), Intimate Exchanges tells of a schoolmaster's troubled marriage, made worse by difficult neighbors, friends, family and co-workers. One character's decision whether to smoke or not then spins off into eight different plays - and 16 different finales. According to press reps for 59E59 Theaters, which is producing and housing the festival, this is the first time all eight versions of Intimate Exchanges are being produced as one entity in America.

Ayckbourn, of course, is no stranger to complicated playmaking. His The Norman Conquests set three different comedies, with the same characters, simultaneously in three different areas of a house and garden. Communicating Doors sent its protagonist back and forth in time attempting to prevent her own murder. Other works by the prolific scribe include Woman in Mind and Private Fears in Public Places, which was staged to acclaim during last years Brits Fest.