A Small Family Business

by Alan Ayckbourn

directed by Ken Spencer

Performed at

Theatre Royal, Winchester


26th to 30th October 1993

The Writer on His Work

“Eighty per cent of the productions I’ve seen of my plays have always been far too boisterous: that’s the British idea of having a good time ..... I’d love to write a truly hilarious dark play.”

“At the moment, touch wood, ideas just pop out: as soon as I get one out, another one arrives, so that is nice, but there is always the fear that it won’t happen, that there will be The Blank Sheet of Paper .... The best part of my work is not the clapping, it’s the feeling at the end of the evening, that you have given the most wonderful party and these five hundred strangers who came in are feeling better .... I don’t know but they are sort of unified into a whole and that is marvellous”

“Significant Theatre, Serious Theatre, are deadly words.They should be banished, this feeling that unless there is a glum silence in the auditorium, nothing meaningful can be happening...”

“I made a vow when I was an actor with nothing to do except wait for my line on p.49, that in my plays there would be no butlers, waiters or soldiers with spears.”

“I now realise that I have a double obligation: to an audience - one has to entertain them as a practical writer; but one has to give them something else besides.”

Alan Ayckbourn is popular. He is prolific. And he writes comedies.For all those reasons he is still seriously underrated. He is constantly written about as if he were a boulevard lightweight whereas he shows an increasing capacity to handle the darker side of human nature while retaining his technical adventurousness.Looking at his plays in detail, one notices the recurrence of certain themes (disillusionment with’marriage, horror at masculine insensitivity towards women, dislike of do-gooders and bullish opportunists, sympathy with the feckless and incompetent) within a constantly varying comic format.Emotionally, he has staked out his own particular territory: technically, he is always trying to push the frontiers outwards.

For his audiences that progress is particularly hard to follow. To the casual eye, it seems as if Ayckbourn sprang fully-armed from the head of some theatrical Zeus in 1967 with a hit comedy, Relatively Speaking. It ran for 355 performances at the Duke of York’s and ranked as the most mature and accomplished West End debut since Terence Rattigan arrived with French Without Tears in 1936. But, of course, the truth is vastly more complicated than that. Not only had a previous Ayckbourn play, Mr. Whatnot, enjoyed a brief, mildly disastrous run at the off-West End Arts Theatre in 1963; but from 1959 on Ayckbourn had had a number of earlier plays produced both at The Library Theatre, Scarborough and at the Victoria Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent. He had, in fact, paid his dues.

Nearly 30 years on his 42nd play, Wildest Dreams, is part of The Royal Shakespeare Company’s winter season at The Barbican: our theatre’s Master Craftsman of Comedy is as popular and as prolific as ever.

Cast (in order of appearance)
Poppy Jan Shrouder
Ken Douglas Coates
Desmond David Pike
Harriet Hazel Burrows
Yvonne Jean Durman
Cliff Sean McCann
Anita Sarah Spencer
Uberto Don Marr-Skopf
Tina Dawn Alford
Roy John Carrington
Samantha Katrina Dowding
Jack Harry Tuffill
Lotario Frank Drompos
Orlando Sam Porkfrond
Giorgio Rod F. Karmpson
Vincenzo Mark Ponsford
Benedict Robbie Carnegie
For the Maskers
Designed & Directed by Ken Spencer
Technical Director Ron Tillyer
Stage Manager Kirsten Shiell
Assistant Stage Manager Emma Carrington
Set Construction Chris Finbow, Douglas Shiell, Roger Lockett, Geoff Cook, Brian Langford
Lighting Design Ron Tillyer
Sound Recordist Lawrie Gee
Properties Ella Lockett
Wardrobe Mistreus Suzanne Dowding
Make-Up Design Jacquie Block
Publicity & Marketing Michael Patterson
Language Coach Paolo Magnaschi
Decor Assistant Jan Ward


Thank You

Your message has been sent. You should receive a confirmation email shortly. If the email does not arrive it is possible that your email address was not entered correctly, please try resubmitting your enquiry.

Shirley's own LOCAL theatre!

Maskers Theatre Company
Off Emsworth Road
SO15 3LX

Registered Charity 900067

Established 1968

 Contact Us


Our postal address is: Maskers Theatre Company, Unit 1, Off Emsworth Road, Shirley, Southampton, SO15 3LX

General Enquiries Form

Please use this contact form for contacting us about any issue. Use the drop-down list to ensure your enquiry gets directed to the correct person.

Any contact details provided will only be used in relation to your inquiry and will be deleted after conclusion.

 Support Us

 Join Us

Join our Email list
and receive updates
about our shows

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Are you a member of Maskers Theatre Company?

The Maskers Theatre Company will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing by email. Please confirm you would like to hear from us by ticking the box below:

You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at marketing@maskers.org.uk. We will treat your information with respect. For more information about our privacy practices please visit our website maskers.org.uk/subscribe.php By clicking below, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.


 Update Contact Details

Other local theatre events

Some of our performance venues:
Maskers Studio Theatre
The Berry Theatre
Townhill Park House

View our Image Gallery

Access Members Site (Maskers Members only)