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A Brief History of Women

From 46 member  reviews
Members say: Great acting, Entertaining, Clever, Funny, Great staging

About the show

Part of 59E59's 2018 'Brits Off Broadway' series, Alan Ayckbourn's new, gently touching comedy in four parts follows a man's romantic progress over 60 years. More…

'A Brief History of Women' tells the story of an unremarkable man and the remarkable women who loved him, left him, or lost him, and of the equally remarkable old manor house that saw and heard it all happen. From his first unsettling encounter as a very young man in 1925, to an unexpected reunion late in life, 'A Brief History of Women' charts Anthony Spates's life, with all its fireworks, loves, and losses.

Member Reviews (46)


Great acting, Entertaining, Clever, Funny, Great staging
Avg Score

Entertaining, Great acting, Clever, Funny, Sentimental

See it if you want to see a not-so-brief history of a man (& his relationships w/women), sharply written & superbly acted in a new Ayckbourn dramedy.

Don't see it if you expect the biting satire, acerbic wit & absurdist twists of Ayckbourn's best-known works. [This is AA at his more sedate & conventional]

Ambitious, Great acting, Funny, Intelligent, Touching

See it if you're a fan of Ayckbourn, enjoy plots that occur over 50+ years, like comedies with a serious heart, enjoy tales set in rural England

Don't see it if you don't like plays set over multiple years or touching comedies that aren't hilarious, actors in multiple roles is confusing,

Absorbing, Clever, Great ensemble, Funny, Masterful

See it if you enjoy Alan Ayckbourn's work. Although this is not one of his top-tier plays, it still provides a funny and moving evening of theatre.

Don't see it if you do not like British plays that poke fun at the British class system. Also, if you have a hard time with British accents.

Clever, Entertaining, Great acting, Great staging

See it if you enjoy seeing the work of an amazingly prolific British playwright superbly performed by versatile actors

Don't see it if you don't like comedies of manners.

Great writing, Great acting, Entertaining, Set changes are an act by themselves

See it if Aykbourn plot and British humor tells the story of a man’s relationships with women at four different ages.

Don't see it if You are expecting a play that focuses on women. You don’t care for British humor.

Clever, Delightful, Great acting, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you like bright, funny, inventive theatre.Set alone is worth the price of admission.Acting is top rate.Ayckbourn's writing never disappoints

Don't see it if you want something serious or pithy.This is lighthearted fun, cleverly staged.Title is a bit misleading.It's more the history of a manor!

Ambitious, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Quirky

See it if you enjoy a playwright that breaks down the fourth wall consistently in his work. Ayckbourn knows no bounds

Don't see it if not his best work, a bit confusing but in the end satisfying

Entertaining, Clever, Great acting, Funny, Great staging

See it if a funny British play that is sometimes touching; takes place over 60 years in the same manor house whose function changes over those years

Don't see it if you don't like actors playing a variety of different roles no matter how wonderful they are in them; expect more of the focus to be on women

Also The main character is a man who appears in all for acts at the ages of... Read more Read less

Charming, Great acting, Touching, Entertaining, Tender

See it if like most of us, you love British everything, Alan Ayckbourn, solid dialogue, charming plots that resolve well, great acting and good set.

Don't see it if You're weary from too much Downton Abbey or simply don't enjoy the kind of theatre only the Brits give us.

Absorbing, Great acting, Entertaining, Enchanting, Delightful

See it if You enjoy British humor. Enjoy British dialects, this show is a wonderful buffet of English accents.

Don't see it if Looking for a slap-stick. Just because it's British, don't mean it's Noises Off. Looking for something that's completely "family-friendly."

Also This is the second show I have seen as part of 59E59's Brits Off-Broad... Read more Read less

Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Funny, Great staging

See it if You love British casts doing ensemble work; you enjoy Ayckbourn's humor; you love to see things come together unpredictably

Don't see it if you find actors playing different roles in different parts of the same play confusing; you don't appreciate British humor

Entertaining, Well-crafted characters

See it if You like your plots character-driven. 3 1/2 one-act plays the common thread being a mansion over a period of 40 years.Fun.

Don't see it if You want something edgy and visceral. This is ironic and cerebral..

Also The playwright Alan Ayckbourn has written 82 plays. Some of them are s... Read more Read less

Delightful, Funny, Great acting, Great writing, Great staging

See it if you love British comedy and British actors in general, and Ayckbourn in particular - especially his gift for playing games with spaces.

Don't see it if you don't like British humor and you're allergic to over the top caricature, even when skillfully done.


See it if You're a die hard Alan Ayckbourn fan and want to see some anecdotes with the occasional good plot idea.

Don't see it if You're not a fan of the type of dry, dull humor and dialogue that would have already felt dated 50 years ago.

Entertaining, Amusing, Clever

See it if you like Alan Ayckbourn's plays, the Brits Off Broadway series, a play that requires your patience to come together.

Don't see it if you're not willing to indulge the playwright, you expect the title to be relevant to the play itself.

Clever, Entertaining, Quirky, Great staging, Great writing

See it if You enjoy mildly amusing English plays told vignette style.

Don't see it if You need your comedies to be hilarious start to finish.

Great acting, Entertaining, Dated

See it if You are a fan of British comedy especially ones written by Alan Ayckbourn. You love actors so good they convince you they are every one of

Don't see it if You have no patience with shows that are dated, creaky and long. Silliiness annoys you. British accents grate on your ears.

Also the mutiple roles they play. The theatre is small but with good sight-... Read more Read less

Banal, Cliched, Dated, Slow

See it if You like over-long Downton Abbey genre material with stereotypical British class characters in formulaic situations

Don't see it if You are not a fan of dated British soap opera-type productions which take 2 1/2 hours to come to a point.

Also This is definitely NOT vintage Alan Ayckbourn material and although th... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging

See it if a talented cast with an incredible set and excellent playwright

Don't see it if following one man's romantic adventures over many years does not appeal to you. or if you dislike british accents.

Disappointing, Cliched, Slow, Overrated

See it if You will go to anything by Ayckbourn.

Don't see it if You dislike slow plays or dated British farce. You have no patience with hammy acting.

Great acting, Slow, Disappointing, Clever

See it if Like British plays and humor and acting

Don't see it if Fan of the playwright but this was disappointing

Delightful, Funny, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing

See it if You like Alan Ayckbourn’s plays, British theater, the genre of tragicomedy, enjoy close up masterful performances.

Don't see it if You don’t enjoy long plays, are looking for a broadway style or a fast paced show

Clever, Entertaining, Great acting

See it if Amusing play set as four generations of a English country house. Ayckbourn insight, wit and compassion. Enjoyable.

Don't see it if Somewhat long, drawing-room style drama.

Disappointing, Lackluster, Sluggish, Melodramatic, Banal

See it if you are in need of a nap.

Don't see it if you like theatre that is cutting edge.

Also Alan Ayckbourne is a grat comic writer but you would never know it fro... Read more Read less

Clever, Funny, Delightful, Hilarious, Quirky

See it if You enjoy broad funny strokes by very talented actors and enjoy clever set changes and period costumes.

Don't see it if You do not appreciate fast moving farce.

May 2nd, 2018
"'A Brief History' can at times feel as broad and overstated as the children's Christmas pantomime that figures crucially in one of the plot lines. Yet just when you start to think that the old master is on autopilot, he turns a sharp corner with a wrench that surprises you into spontaneous tears...
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May 2nd, 2018
"The title of Ayckbourn's wistful a bit of a trick. The play isn't brief and its barrels of history are not exactly of women...Ayckbourn is past master of theatrical innovation...One of the key pleasures of 'A Brief History' lies in admiring a peak craftsman at work. Everything fits t...
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May 8th, 2018
“As usual with Ayckbourn, ‘A Brief History of Women' arises from an ingenious structural premise...Ayckbourn compresses each ‘episode’ of his complex plot into a single scene that plays out in something close to real time, thereby intensifying its emotional impact. A few of the plot lines are exp...
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May 2nd, 2018
"This one feels comparatively dashed off. It may look and feel like an Ayckbourn play, but it doesn't have the same impact as his brilliant, genre-bending works...For starters, the play is neither brief nor about women...As a director of space, Ayckbourn is eternally skillful...As a director of a...
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