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.

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'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.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

The York Press (UK)

for a previous production "The history is indeed brief, but the accumulative effect is for Ayckbourn's play to acquire a tragi-comic depth...At 78, he is writing and directing with as much wit, insight, originality and mischief as ever, still surprising, still setting himself theatrical puzzles, still so spot-on about the arts, education, marriage, romance, loss and life's vicissitudes for men and women, but now with added reflection and humane sagacity. Play number 81 is a brief history of Ayckbourn in one play." Full Review

The Sentinel

for a previous production "There’s no denying that Ayckbourn knows how to write a cracking play. And I doubt 'A Brief History of Women' will leave even the most seasoned of theatre-goers disappointed...Ayckbourn does an incredible job of portraying some boisterous, bigoted beliefs about feminism, homosexuality, socialism, and everything in between...I can confidently say that I’ll be remembering that house, and this play, for years to come as well." Full Review

The Reviews Hub

for a previous production "Ingenious, mischievous, and ultimately humane...Ayckbourn is still able to find new ways of entertaining us for two hours and making us think a bit as well...There is some unevenness of tone but the character of Anthony Spates makes the whole thing believable...Ayckbourn creates a character of breath-taking normality, kindly, rational, and self-effacing...Throughout he is the epitome of unselfish decency – and, oddly enough, not at all boring." Full Review

The Stage (UK)

for a previous production "As both director and writer, Ayckbourn is a dab hand at solving theatrical puzzles, orchestrating the action in several locations at once...Dysfunctional marriages, as is so often the case with Ayckbourn, feature prominently on the dramatic menu, but here there’s also a poignant re-awakening of romantic possibilities...There’s a lot of loss and longing in this journey, but the play’s elegiac, reflective tone proves both moving and liberating as it reaches an ending of haunting beauty." Full Review

The Telegraph (UK)

for a previous production "It’s so sketchily written and baldly schematic that, for all its underlying ambition and innocuous entertainment value...TS Eliot’s 'Four Quartets.' Little of that poem’s numinous poignancy is to be found in this workaday affair. Yet despite itself, simply because it attests all the same to Ayckbourn’s own story of tenacity, longevity and attachment to place, it stirs something like gratitude and admiration...There are worse ways of wasting an evening." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

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