BWW Review: A BRIEF HISTORY OF WOMEN by Alan Ayckbourn at 59E59 Theaters is a Gem
The stage is set and the time is now to get tickets for A Brief History of Women. It is being performed as part of the Brits Off-Broadway 2018 at 59E59 Theaters. This production is brilliantly written and directed by Alan Ayckbourn and features a superb cast. The show depicts social situations and human behaviors that are poignant and real, laced with the just the right dose of madcap humor. Metro audiences are indeed fortunate to have the opportunity to see Ayckbourn's marvelous gem on the Upper East Side stage.
The play consists of 4 segments, each of which tells a story about the son of a farmer, Anthony Spates, also called Tony, and his relationships with women over his lifetime. Part one is held at Kirkbridge Manor in 1925 where Spates, age 17, works as a part-time servant for a family of aristocrats who hardly get along. Although he witnesses an abusive relationship between the Lord and Lady of the house, he gets an opportunity to improve his future. Part two occurs twenty years later in 1945. Kirkbridge Manor has become a prep school for girls and Anthony works as a teacher who is romantically involved with a colleague. Part three is set in 1965 when the manor house has become Kirkbridge Arts Center. Tony Spates, now age 57, is the Center's administrator. He has the dubious job of overseeing a community production with a group of very colorful characters. Part four brings the history of the women in Anthony's life full circle. It takes place in 1985, when Kirkbridge Manor has become an upscale hotel where Anthony was once the manger. He is now age 77 and as he greets one of the guests, memories from the past come flooding back. Each of the four parts in the play is wonderfully executed with seamless transitions.
The cast of A Brief History of Women is outstanding. Anthony Eden plays Anthony Spates in all of the scenes. The other members of the troupe portray multiple roles. They include Russell Dixon, Frances Marshall, Laura Matthews, Laurence Pears, and Louise Shuttleworth. Ayckbourn's richly crafted dialogue is delivered with impeccable timing. Whether the actors are portraying Anthony's first kiss at Kirkbridge Manor, staff meetings at the prep school, play practice at Kirkbridge Arts Center, or the check-in at Kirkbridge Manor Hotel, every moment of the play is captivating.
The Creative Team has done an excellent job of bringing the show to the stage in Theater A. They include set and costume design by Kevin Jenkins; lighting design by Jason Taylor; Associate Director is Lotte Wakeham; Composer is Simon Slater; Casting is by Sarah Hughes DCG. The AEA Stage Manager is Veronica Aglow; Deputy Stage Manager is Amy Bending; and Assistant Stage Manager is Emma Lang.
The Brief History of Women is a completely entertaining show while it provides a significant perspective of humanity. This is an important time in society to explore the roles of women and what affects them. Don't miss it!
A Brief History of Women is produced by Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough. It is being performed for a limited engagement through Sunday, May 27 at 59E59 Theaters. The theatre is located at 59 East 59th Street (between Park and Madison Avenues). It runs for two and a half hours with one 15-minute intermission. The performance schedule is Tuesday - Friday at 7:00 PM; Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 PM & 7:00 PM. Tickets are available by calling Ticket Central at 212-279-4200 or online at http://www.59e59.org/.
Photo Credit: Tony Bartholomew