Ayckbourn ‘insists on perfection’ from cast

Dan Dryer, seated right, joins the family for a game of Snakes and Ladders in Season's Greetings
Dan Dryer, seated right, joins the family for a game of Snakes and Ladders in Season's Greetings

WICK Theatre Company is delighted to have pulled off a coup for the December production.

Dan Dryer joins the cast for Alan Ayckbourn’s comedy Season’s Greetings, having previously worked directly with the celebrated director and writer.

As an actor at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, under Ayckbourn’s artistic direction, Dan was only too aware of how important it was to be word perfect.

He explained: “Ayckbourn insisted on 100 per cent accuracy in the delivery of the script.

“He was clear that as he had spent a long time writing it, he wasn’t going to have it messed around with by the actors.”

Even every ‘um’ or ‘ahh’ in the script had to be reproduced exactly as it was written.

Dan added: “Ayckbourn was also known to rewrite sections that didn’t seem to be working, so we’d get a new chunk of script to learn overnight before the performance the next day.”

But Ayckbourn was always hospitable, he recalled, including a party in the writer’s home.

He noted Ayckbourn was happier observing and listening to the conversations of others rather than being the centre of them himself, though.

Overheard snippets and astute observations of human behaviour have been the raw material for his celebrated plays over the last 55 years and the majority of his work has been premièred in Scarborough.

Season’s Greetings, which follows a rather dysfunctional family through the festive period, was based on Ayckbourn’s own family Christmases.

“You’ve got three days together and there’s always bound to be at least a cousin no one can stand,” he said.

“I’ve seen it at my own Christmases – two relatives arguing bitterly over who should sit in which chair.”

Dan plays Neville, the classic ‘shed man’, who shares Christmas with his wife Belinda (Lyn Snowden), shy novelist Clive (Phil Brown), sister Phyllis (Sarah Charsley) and her husband Bernard (Mathew Arnold), his uncle Harvey (David Peaty), Belinda’s sister Rachel (Sarah Frost), friend Eddie (Tom Harris) and his heavily-pregnant wife Pattie (Sophie Lane).

Performances run from December 10 to 13, at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, at 7.45pm daily. Tickets £11, box office 01273 597094.