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Hero's Welcome

From 27 critic and 18 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Slow, Disappointing, Great writing

About the show

Part of 59E59's Brits Off Broadway fest, Alan Ayckbourn's new comedic drama chronicles a war hero's return to the town he fled 17 years earlier. More…

A decorated war hero returns to his boyhood stomping ground with a new young bride, but is all as it seems? Once the welcome flags have stopped waving, few of his friends seem particularly happy to see him back. Murray's declared intention of staying put and settling down threatens to stir up all sorts of old rivalries and resentments. Suddenly the couple, in search of peace, find themselves once more in the firing line. This production is directed by the celebrated Ayckbourn himself, and runs in repertory with his 1974 play: 'Confusions.'

Front Row Center

"The NYC premiere of 'Hero’s Welcome' is theater where all the pieces – writing, directing, and acting – impeccably fit together...Mr. Ayckbourn hasn’t lost his touch. He also directed this production, a playwright uniquely able to optimally serve his text...I have not one negative criticism of the production. With the direction and entire cast equally splendid, it is perfection." Full Review


"A rich theatrical piece…It is an emotionally charged story that keeps you captivated from the first moment to the last…This is storytelling at its finest, a complex human drama full of twists and turns. The characters are distinctive and wonderfully crafted. The cast completely masters their respective roles capturing the drama and humorous moments in the story...’Hero’s Welcome’ is a theatrical gift to metro area audiences." Full Review


"Now having its American premiere in repertory with 'Confusions', one of Ayckbourn’s earliest plays, with the same actors in both, the production which is directed by the author is from the Stephen Joseph Theater, Scarborough, where most of the author’s plays have had their world premieres. This is a powerful and engrossing study of friendship, love, jealousy, competition and betrayal." Full Review


"As Ayckbourn proves in his tremendous new drama, he's just as wily and incisive now as he was in the early days of his career…The writing blends Ayckbourn's signature style of menacing darkness underneath uproarious situational comedy. It's an excellent, compelling look at human resilience in the face of terror, and the things people are willing to do to make each other both miserable and happy. The performances are top-notch." Full Review


"Ayckbourn stirs us with mystery and conflict. We become completely engaged in how events transpire. Indeed, what Ayckbourn offers is a journey of revelation...From beginning to end, 'Hero’s Welcome' is a sterling production...The directing and acting combine to make for a breathtaking, heart-wrenching finish...This finest of Ayckbourn’s works reveals most importantly that without unsung heroes we are left to face alone the impossible battles within." Full Review

The Wall Street Journal

"'Hero’s Welcome' is one of the most poignant dramas that Mr. Ayckbourn has given us…The straightforwardly plotted 'Hero’s Welcome' contains none of the virtuoso theatrical prestidigitation that is Mr. Ayckbourn’s trademark, but it does make splendidly effective use of two stock types from his rogue’s gallery of men…Has there ever been a playwright who directed his own works more skillfully and imaginatively? I doubt it." Full Review

Time Out New York

"Having churned out some 79 plays over 55 years, Alan Ayckbourn could easily have run out of plot twists—but this seemingly facile master is far from depleted...The couples bounce off each other like charged particles, and if you think you know where the story’s going, you assuredly don’t. Ayckbourn is as crack a director as he is a dab playwright, and the cast is top-notch—especially the heliotropic Hoskins, who starts out shadowy and subdued, only slowly finding her light." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"It’s an ironic play with amusing but bitter elements. The irony is tinged with wisdom-of-the-ages sadness, but it does end on a hopeful note…The acting is first-rate as is the direction, with twists and turns created by a first-rate intelligence. 'Hero’s Welcome' is a play you take home with you, furrow your brow and think about, It’s proof that even at 79, Alan Ayckbourn can still create diverse plays with interesting characters. Anything he writes is well worth seeing!" Full Review

A Seat on the Aisle

"Here’s our bottom line on 'Hero’s Welcome:' we loved it and it’s clearly another Ayckbourn hit...The play is rife with plots and subplots...The cast of 'Hero’s Welcome' consists of the same three men and two women. To be sure, Richard Stacey truly comes into his own here in the starring role of Murray. Nor is this to to say that the other members of the cast aren’t just as good here as they were in 'Confusions' for they truly are." Full Review

The New York Times

“Though it is Mr. Ayckbourn’s most recent play, it is also one of this most old-fashioned...A comedy, at least in the sense that Chekhov called his plays comedies. Its characters are enjoyably silly in their pretensions and eccentricities. They are also capable of acts of genuine evil and genuine heroism...A crowded work...It has more twists of plot than a season of ‘Coronation Street.’ But never make the mistake of thinking Mr. Ayckbourn doesn’t know what he’s doing.” Full Review


"While 'Confusions' ranks in the lower region of Ayckbourn's amazingly large body of work, 'Hero's Welcome' deserves a place in the top tier. Though not without its comic moments, the emphasis this time is on romance — with a true and tender love story interwoven with several youthful love affairs gone wrong…Richard Stacey is believable and touching as the soldier…This mix of sweet and sour makes for a satisfyingly complex several hours of theater." Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

"Acykbourn weaves the strands of the overloaded plot into somewhat of a soap opera, except that in his hands the play comes across as more than that. There is mordant humor underscoring the complications as well as serious observations about character behavior. Despite so much jammed into in the play, Ayckbourn and his marvelous cast can keep us riveted, and his direction is lean and pointed." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"‘Hero’s Welcome’ offers yet another lesson in the magic of good acting...It uses comedy sparingly to tell a story with rather serious events, including a killing, a stroke, and arson; there are some raucous laughs, but the tone definitely leans toward the dark side. Ayckbourn’s genius is such that even when his characters and situations tend toward nastiness humor ripples through the subtext and performances." Full Review

Epoch Times

“What becomes clear in ‘Hero’s Welcome’ is how easily people are willing to believe the worst about others...Standing out in this story as a rock of integrity is Baba. Hoskins does an excellent job not only in making her appealing, but also in working with Ayckbourn to allow the character to blossom...The ending is somewhat ambiguous. It shows events coming full circle while leaving the characters with several questions...Then again, that’s been Ayckbourn’s point throughout.” Full Review


"'Hero’s Welcome' demonstrates a profound understanding of quiet, upper-middle-class suffering." Full Review

NY Theatre Guide

"Of the many good things in the play, one of them were the actors…Of the things that bothered me, and some of the rest of the audience as they stepped out, was the play’s duration. There were some scenes that could have been cut out…Having said that, even with its long duration, the play was able to keep the audience members glued to their seats, but only if they are willing to commit to it." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"The six actors deliver authentic and engaging performances. Less engaging is the script itself. The script is convoluted and its characters underdeveloped. While Murray’s, Alice’s, and Kara’s conflicts are clear and their motivations believable, other characters lack authentic conflicts…'Hero’s Welcome' rehearses Mr. Ayckbourn’s important themes with a less than contemporary feel. Still, 'Hero’s Welcome' is an interesting story with redemptive themes and worth the visit." Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

"'Hero’s Welcome' feels less sturdily constructed than 'Confusions'–its mysteries are perhaps too easy to solve, some of its characterizations less nuanced than they might be...Ayckbourn directs with a reliance on vivid performances, evocative costumes and cheap furnishings. The actors he has assembled are gutsy and supple. A couple of them are inclined to overplay their parts, but this is clearly done with his approval...Though neither is a major work, each play is absorbing on its own." Full Review

Bob's Theater Blog

"One of the pleasures of an Ayckbourn season is becoming reacquainted with fine actors who have appeared in previous seasons....Billington, although an apparent newcomer, fits in seamlessly as the toxic Brad…Past events are explained more fully in a way that generates compassion for the characters…The play is plot-heavy and would benefit from a bit of tightening. While it does not represent Ayckbourn at his best, it nevertheless offers much to enjoy." Full Review

The York Press (UK)

for a previous production "'Hero's Welcome' is Ibsen-black in its darkness yet still hugely humorous…Stacey's well-meaning Murray may be the maelstrom, but Ayckbourn is more intrigued by the older man, Dixon's stand-out Derek, and once more he goes to the heart of dissatisfied, frustrated women with such rare male insight. At 76, he is writing with a devastating combination of the sage and the rage." Full Review

The Sentinel

for a previous production "Funny, vibrant, fast-paced and thoroughly entertaining, 'Hero's Welcome' does not disappoint…An enticing mix of intrigue and suspense in a drama which is both constantly engaging and amusing. There are certainly no dull moments in this play…The real beauty of 'Hero's Welcome' is that it weaves a multitude of personal stories into one cleverly crafted piece of theatre. It is sharp, sassy, moving and comical, a winning combination." Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

for a previous production "Ayckbourn's talent for recording the wanton damage we do to each other, whether with a smiling face or a savage sneer as in the case of Brad, remains undiminished. His production is also well acted by Richard Stacey as the trouble-making Murray, Elizabeth Boag as the brooding mayor, Stephen Billington as Brad and Emma Manton as his verbally abused wife, whose relationship is that of jailer and prisoner." Full Review

British Theatre Guide

for a previous production "Ayckbourn masterfully teases the undertones and nuances from his own text…There are heart-rending moments of clear-sighted observation…Where I have reservations is around the unsettling feeling that the play is for much of its length ‘getting going’, laying down smouldering fuses for the bombs which go off surprisingly late...It is a play, then, which lives in the mind and reveals depths and nuances in retrospect, but which is somewhat frustratingly imbalanced in the watching." Full Review

The Stage (UK)

for a previous production "As past skirmishes and twisty back-stories slowly unravel on three overlapping acting spaces, you just yearn for the plot to cut to the chase and skeletons to rattle out of closets...It’s Ayckbourn’s excellent cast who make them stick together, notably Stephen Billington as a smarmy brute of a husband, Emma Manton as the nervy wife trapped in an abusive marriage, and Terenia Edwards as the foreigner discovering the true meaning of English words like “hero”." Full Review

The Telegraph (UK)

for a previous production "I’m afraid it’s more filler than killer…Ayckbourn, who also directs, lays out too many scenes in televisual segments, making it slightly stop-start. Some of the characterization is sketchy; we could do with more depth, less plot. Only some of the writing bites…Aside from one odd bit of miscasting the acting is more than serviceable, especially from the wiry, intense Richard Stacey as Murray." Full Review

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Must see, Relevant

See it if You love plays by Ayckbourn. This is one of his best. You appreciate fine writing. You like contemporary plays with relatable characters !

Don't see it if You are looking for a lighthearted saucy British comedy. Ayckbourn has written many fine ones but this is far from a comedy !

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Intelligent, Intense

See it if You want to see a play about what it's like to return home after a war. There was a mystery about why the person left in the first place.

Don't see it if you don't find character studies of interest.

Great acting ensemble, Great writing, Masterful, Resonant, Riveting

See it if you want to see an Ayckbourn play that is more dramatic than comedic. Full of twists and turns! Act One is filled with too much exposition.

Don't see it if you need more action in a play. Also, if you do not understand the British class system. If you do not appreciate subtle performances.

Clever, Ambitious, Intense

See it if For a new drama by this important contemporary playwright. His plays reveal the interlocking cogs in the machinery of human relationships.

Don't see it if Somewhat labored and contrived dramatic structure, overly long. For the seasoned Ayckbourn audience not first timers.

Great writing, Intelligent, Masterful, Thought-provoking

See it if writing alway good. characters come to life and remind us of the turns in of our lives

Don't see it if if you need a lot of action

Absorbing, Slow, Clever, Surprising

See it if you want to see Alan Ayckbourn still proving his talent for clever wordplay, sly plot twists & class system commentary 55yrs into his career

Don't see it if you have no patience for a slow Act 1; you expect a laugh-out-loud Ayckbourn comedy. (This is "comedy" in the Chekhovian or Shavian sense.)

Great acting, Intelligent, Quirky, Thought-provoking, Original

See it if you are interested in anything Ayckbourn writes and you like seeing first-rate British actors.

Don't see it if because it's by Ayckbourn, you are expecting it to be a comedy!

Great acting, Ambitious, Original

See it if Love Ayckbourn and enjoy his clever writing and plot twists. Want to see great acting.

Don't see it if You want a typical Acybourn comedy. This is my least favorite and made me very uncomfortable, plus I have to admit I just didn't care.

Great acting, Cliched, Entertaining, Long.

See it if You want to see the latest Alan Ayckbourn play. Interesting to see in repertory with Confusions. Amazingly versitile and talented actors.

Don't see it if You prefer shorter plays. The first act is almost an hour and a half long.

Banal, Predictable, Disappointing

See it if Wonder what an Ayckbourn play would be like without the humor, but still with set pieces and cardboard characters.

Don't see it if You don't know what's going to happen when you see a rifle in an early scene. You want more than soap opera plots, revelations, characters.

Disappointing, Slow, Great acting, Ayckbourn admirable

See it if 3 stories, 3 households cramped staging, but mostly engrossing play very well acted. Ayckbourn's world is always a treat, this one included.

Don't see it if It's not top drawer Ayckbourn, but if you love his writing as I do, you won't want to miss it. Next is the 5-play evening called CONFUSIONS.

Disappointing, Cliched, Slow, Astute

See it if you're an Ayckbourn completist. There are some strong performances in roles that have shading. Others are stuck playing villains or victims.

Don't see it if you want to believe Ayckbourn's an unerring hero. This wears out its welcome early on.

During previews
Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Great writing, Thought-provoking

See it if you enjoy a show which is intelligent and absorbing, has interesting characters and a plot which is unusual, with a logical conclusion.

Don't see it if you don't want to see a somewhat sad story with quirky and well-developed characters, or you hate British drama.

During previews
Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Romantic

See it if if you like Alan Ayckbourn (also the director), complicated plots, great acting, and good staging.

Don't see it if if you like comedies, or plays with uncomplicated plots.

During previews
Great acting, Slow, Resonant

See it if You love Ackybourn's quirky characters and humor. Not his best and the plot is confusing. But still worth seeing for the riveting second act

Don't see it if You don't like slow direction, overplotted stories, one dimensional villians and a somewhat simple staging.

During previews
Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Plot-intensive, Ambitious

See it if you are an Ayckbourn fan and enjoy fine ensemble acting.

Don't see it if you don't like complicated plots and like your plays short and snappy.

During previews
I usually love ayckbourn's plays but find this one a rare misfire

See it if you are an Ayckbourn fan, you like slow developing plots, great acting, British drama

Don't see it if you don't like British drama, slow plot and character development, complicated plotline yet still feels generic, heavy accents

During previews
Poorly plotted, Overlong, Pointless, Well-acted, Disappointing

See it if you like to see all the British plays at 59E59. Otherwise, skip this one. Acting is mostly strong, but material's a mess. Buba is a standout

Don't see it if you want a reality-based play to make sense. Act II is truly idiotic. And play is interminable. Interesting premise squandered. A shame!

Cast & Creatives (12)