Ayckbourn’s 84th play will be a satire on family, relationships, politics and the state of the nation at Scarborough’s SJT

Alan Ayckbourn: 84th full-length play Truth Will Out will be premiered this summer at the SJT. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

THE truth is out. Alan Ayckbourn’s 84th full-length play will be premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, this summer.

Truth Will Out, Ayckbourn’s up-to-the-minute satire on family, relationships, politics and the state of the nation, will run on various dates in the SJT programme between August 20 and October 3.

Written and directed by the former SJT artistic director, it follows hot on the heels of Ayckbourn’s 80th birthday play, Birthdays Past, Birthdays Present, in 2019.

“Everyone has secrets,” entices the new play’s synopsis. “Certainly, former shop steward George, his right-wing MP daughter Janet, investigative journalist Peggy, and senior civil servant Sefton, do.

“And all it’s going to take is one tech-savvy teenager with a mind of his own and time on his hands to bring their worlds tumbling down – and maybe everyone else’s along with them. A storm is brewing…”

Jemma Churchill and Naomi Petersen in Alan Ayckbourn’s 80th birthday play, Birthdays Past, Birthdays Present, at the SJT in September 2019. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

As is customary in the SJT summer season, Ayckbourn also will direct an Ayckbourn revival, this time his 20th play, the very dark Just Between Ourselves, premiered at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, on January 28 1976, followed by its London premiere at the Queen’s Theatre on April 20 1977.

Ayckbourn calls it one of his “winter” plays, written in the winter months, like Ten Times Table and Joking Apart, wherein he attributed their darkness to being penned at this time of year.

Booked into the SJT diary for performances on various dates from June 18 to October 3, Just Between Ourselves dissects man’s inadvertent inhumanity to woman.

Dennis thinks he is a master at DIY and a perfect husband. In reality, he is neither of those things. When he decides to sell his car, Neil turns up as a potential buyer, wanting it for his wife Pam’s birthday.

The two couples become unlikely friends, aided and abetted by Dennis’s meddling live-in mother, Marjorie. A collision course is inevitable in “the one with the car”, set in a garage and a garden over four successive birthdays.

Northern Broadsides head from Halifax to Scarborough with Quality Street in May

SJT artistic director Paul Robinson will direct The Ladykillers, Graham Linehan’s spin on the 1955 Ealing comedy motion picture screenplay by William Rose, by special arrangement with StudioCanal and Fiery Angel, London.

This in-house production, playing on various dates between July 9 and August 15, will re-tell the story of the sweetest of sweet little old ladies, alone at home but for a parrot with a mystery illness. Both of them are at the mercy of a ruthless gang of criminal misfits, who will stop at nothing to achieve what they want. Surely there can only be one possible outcome?

Linehan’s writing credits include Father Ted, Black Books, The IT Crowd, Count Arthur Strong and Motherland. Now comes The Ladykillers, to be directed by Robinson with the stylish madcap humour that he brought to The 39 Steps in 2018.

Meanwhile, the SJT has confirmed South Yorkshireman Nick Lane will write the winter show for The Round for the fifth year in a row after his off-the-wall Christmas adaptations of Pinocchio, A Christmas Carol, Alice In Wonderland and Treasure Island.

Lane’s idiosyncratic take on Hans Christian Andersen’s story of The Snow Queen will be directed by Robinson, with music and lyrics once more by Simon Slater, for a run from December 3 to 30. 

Katie Arnstein in Sexy Lamp: playing the SJT on May 26

The SJT’s own productions will be complemented by a busy season of visiting shows, such as The Canary And The Crow on May 7 and 8, Middle Child’s grime and hip hop-inspired gig theatre show about the journey of a working-class black child accepted into a prestigious grammar school.

In Where There’s Muck There’s Bras, on May 7, North Yorkshire stand-up poet Kate Fox offers a comical and thought-provoking insight into “the real Northern Powerhouse: Northern Women – the sung and the unsung”.

On May 9, Roald Dahl And The Imagination Seekers presents a thrilling story told through performance, games and creative play that explores such extraordinary Dahl tales as Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, The BFG and The Twits.

Quality Street, new artistic director Laurie Sansom’s directorial debut for Halifax company Northern Broadsides, will be on tour at the SJT from May 12 to 16. This Broadsides production is a rare revival of Peter Pan author JM Barrie’s delicious farce, a play so well known in its day that it gave its name to the ever-popular British chocolates, made in Halifax since 1936.

Key date for Alistair McGowan: piano and comedy on May 21 at SJT

Alistair McGowan: The Piano Show on May 21 combines the satirical Evesham comedian’s impressionist skills with his new-found prowess on the piano.

In It’s Miss Hope Springs, on May 23, self-confessed “blonde bombsite” Ty Jeffries plays the piano and sings mind-bogglingly catchy numbers from her all-original self-penned repertoire.

Scarborough’s Elvis tribute act, Tony Skingle, presents ElvisThe ’68 Comeback on May 24. Two nights later, Sexy Lamp asks: “Have you ever been treated like an inanimate object?” in Katie Arnstein’s show that combines comedy, original songs and storytelling to “shed a bright light on how ridiculous the industry can be and why Katie is refusing to stay in the dark”.

Sexy Lamp is pitched “somewhere between the comedy of Victoria Wood, the comfort of going for a drink with your best mate, and the high drama of Hamlet (although it is nothing like Hamlet”.

Hope springs eternal : It’s Miss Hope Springs plays SJT on May 23

Anglo-Japanese theatre company A Thousand Cranes visit Scarborough with The Great Race! on May 29 and 30. This thrilling story of how the Eastern Zodiac calendar was created is billed as “the perfect show for children in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics”.

Forged Line Dance Company’s Treasure, on June 3, will be a fearless and physical dance performance that explores “our innate human fascination with our seas and coastlines”.

In Chores on June 20, two brothers must hurry to clean their room before their mum comes back. What could possibly go wrong in a circus-comedy for the whole family, all the way from Australia?

Great Yorkshire Fringe favourites Morgan & West serve up Unbelievable Science on September 19, when they combine captivating chemistry, phenomenal physics and bonkers biology in a fun-for-all-the-family science extravaganza.

Mischievous magical science double act Morgan & West in Unbelievable Science on September 19

Tickets for all shows are priced from £10 and will go on general sale from Friday, March 13, preceded by priority booking for the theatre’s membership scheme, The Circle, from March 6, on 01723 370541 or at sjt.uk.com.