Alan Ayckbourn’s A Brief History of Women triumphs in New York

Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre company has returned from New York after a triumphant and record-breaking run with Alan Ayckbourn’s A Brief History of Women, which wowed audiences and critics alike.

The show, which was first seen at the Stephen Joseph Theatre during summer 2017, was part of the annual
Brits Off Broadway festival organised by 59e59 Theaters. It was seen at the theatre - located at 59 East 59th Street - throughout May, attracting nearly 6,300 theatre-goers, a record for an SJT production in New York: the company has been part of the prestigious festival on six previous occasions since 2005.

And the show was a hit with the reviewers, too, taking the prestigious ‘Critics’ Pick’ slot in The New York Times, and receiving praise from leading critic Terry Teachout of The Wall Street Journal, who said: “The play contains a brief speech so charged with the truth of a lifetime’s experience that it took my breath away… beautifully wrought and unexpectedly poignant… It’s by turns madly funny and touching enough to draw tears.”

Brian Beirne, Managing Director of 59E59 Theaters, said: “59E59 Theaters has had the pleasure of hosting the Stephen Joseph Theatre on multiple occasions during its annual celebration of the best of contemporary British theater in New York City, Brits Off Broadway. Their productions are often the highlight of the season and the members of their acting ensemble are beloved by our audiences.”

Stephen Freeman, Chief Executive of the Stephen Joseph Theatre, said: “I’m delighted that
A Brief History of Women has done so well in New York - in fact we smashed our box office targets!

"Taking a play to New York enables us to fly the flag for Scarborough stateside. People are often surprised when they hear about us transferring a show for a month’s run off Broadway and there aren’t many other theatres across the North doing the same. Taking a production there not only makes a financial contribution to the theatre, but it also raises the profile of our work internationally.

"The success of this latest show builds on strong links with our New York partners and we are already in discussion with them about a return visit. Each year we receive many international visitors to the SJT and that benefits the tourist economy of Scarborough. This latest venture has strengthened our reputation and international relationships which demonstrates the vital role we play in showcasing the region and as a key player in the local economy.”

Alan Ayckbourn’s long association with the Stephen Joseph Theatre continues this summer with a revival of his 1978 hit
Joking Apart and the world premiere of his 82nd play, Better Off Dead. He will direct both productions, which are part of a season that also includes The 39 Steps, adapted from John Buchan’s novel and the Alfred Hitchcock film by Patrick Barlow, from an original concept by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon, and Build A Rocket by Christopher York, both directed by Paul Robinson.

American audiences saw the original Scarborough production of
A Brief History of Women with cast members Russell Dixon, Antony Eden, Frances Marshall, Laura Matthews, Laurence Pears and Louise Shuttleworth. The show was written and directed by Alan Ayckbourn, with set and costume design by Kevin Jenkins and lighting design by Jason Taylor.

Four of the actors are returning to Scarborough this summer - Frances Marshall and Louise Shuttleworth will be seen in
Joking Apart, Russell Dixon in Better Off Dead, whilst Laurence Pears will be in both shows.

Stephen Joseph Theatre press release, 1 June 2018