Edinburgh International Festival announcement of the programme today, theatre highlight appears to be a new Ayckbourn getting its world Premiere at the Festival in co-operation with the Old Vic, so I imagine it will head there after August.
its two parts and currently approximately 6 hours!!!!
EIF PR gubbins,
The Divide - an extraordinary new work by one of the UK’s greatest storytellers, Alan Ayckbourn. The Divide is a tale for our own turbulent times that unflinchingly examines a dystopian society of brutal repression, forbidden love and seething insurrection.
A century from now, England has been decimated by a deadly contagion. Contact between men and women is fatal. They are forcibly separated by a divide. Men wear white as a mark of their purity and women – still infected – wear black as a sign of their sin. rother and sister Elihu and Soween grow up in a small town devastated by disease, learning the ways of the closely monitored society around them. But when Elihu falls for the daughter of two radical mothers, he risks not only fatal disease but also igniting a bloody revolution.
Spread across two separate Parts, The Divide is a hugely engaging and constantly surprising story of a society that segregates – but is still recognisable. It is a vastly ambitious project, teeming with richly imagined detail that recounts the work of George Orwell, Aldous Huxley and even Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass films.
He's ventured into the realm of science fiction before to limited effect, for example I vaguely remember one about a robot. Sounds grim. In 100 years I bet Relatively Speaking is still getting revived and this one isn't.
Smell it. Touch it. Kiss it. Kiss it! It's the mother lode...
It will probably surprise no one to learn that I only made it as far as "Men wear white as a mark of their purity" before I wanted to flip my desk over. In the hands of another playwright or a YA author this could be very interesting indeed, but I fear Ayckbourn just doesn't quite have the necessary stuff. Still, I'll watch the reviews with interest, I'm always happy to be proven wrong when it comes to a good dystopia...
The Edinburgh Festival sounds so unlikely a location for any Ayckbourn, even if it is a coup and is going to the Old Vic - though I wouldn't have thought it in keeping with recent programming at that venue, either.
I have seen several Ayckbourns in which he dabbles with the future, but the most successful to me seemed to be Communicating Doors - most recently revived at the Menier - which used time travel to good effect, and that's a bit different. Merely setting a play in the future has worked less well - only a couple of months ago I saw the touring revival of Henceforward, which had its moments but didn't convince.