THE Stephen Joseph Theatre film of Alan Ayckbourn’s latest stage premiere, The Girl Next Door, is available on the Scarborough theatre’s website from 6pm this evening.
Directed by Ayckbourn, his 85th play can be seen in The Round until Saturday and now via sjt.uk.com, in a filmed recording in front of a live audience, until midnight on Sunday (4/7/2021).
In The Girl Next Door, veteran actor Rob Hathaway is stuck at home during the summer of 2020 with only his sensible older sister for company. Rob has little to do but relive his glory days when, as the star of the nation’s favourite TV period drama, National Fire Service, he ruled the roost as George ‘Tiger’ Jennings: wartime hero and living legend among firefighters.
One day, Rob spots a stranger hanging out the washing in the adjoining garden, but his neighbours have not been around for months. Who is the mysterious girl next door? And why is she wearing 1940s’ clothing?
Ayckbourn says: “I was born in 1939, so my earliest memories are of a sort of lockdown: of crowding into Anderson shelters or subway stations; of sleeping in deckchairs or on my mother’s lap. Things have come full circle for me.
“The Girl Next Door is an affirmation of love across the generations – I hope it’s positive and hopeful for those today crawling out of their metaphorical Anderson shelters blinking into the light.”
The filmed production features a cast of Bill Champion, Linford Johnson, Alexandra Mathie and Naomi Petersen.
The SJT’s artistic director, Paul Robinson, says: “We were delighted that part of the funding we received from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund last year was to go towards filming our productions.
“It means that audiences who can’t get to the theatre to see the show, for whatever reason, still have chance to see a high-quality version in the comfort of their own home, and Alan couldn’t have got us off to a better start than with this hit play.”
Written and directed by Ayckbourn, assisted by the SJT’s associate director Chelsey Gillard, The Girl Next Door is designed by Kevin Jenkins with lighting design by Jason Taylor.
Tickets for the film cost £12 each, with a group ticket available at £15 and a version with bonus features, including interviews with Ayckbourn and Jenkins, priced at £20, on 01723 370541 or at sjt.uk.com. To check ticket availability for the last week of the stage production, visit the website.