Today marks an unusual anniversary for Alan Ayckbourn as a playwright.
For on the 15 August 1959, Alan Ayckbourn received his first review from a major publication when The Stage wrote about his first play The Square Cat.
It's frequently overlooked that The Stage was paying attention to the playwright so early in his career and is particularly interesting in light of the fact that archival records suggest only it and the Scarborough Evening News reviewed Alan's first steps as a professional playwright.
To put this into perspective, aside from The Stage reviewing Standing Room Only in 1960, the next major (i.e. non regional) review of an Ayckbourn play - and apparently the first from a broadsheet - was not published until his 6th play in 1963 when Benedict Nightingale reviewed Mr Whatnot for The Guardian.
Did The Stage spot a burgeoning talent at the Library Theatre in Scarborough? You can make your own mind up with the review below.
Big Beat In The Round
Twenty-year old Alan Ayckbourn puts the big beat into Studio Theatre's new production, The Square Cat at Scarborough's Library Theatre, in more ways than one. He wrote it, has the leading part and learned to play guitar for his part as a rock 'n' roll idol chased by a married woman. He gives his best performance of the season in this lively, and extremely amusing off-beat foot tapping comedy. While rock still tops the pops London might well be interested in this bright little play from the provinces.
Comedy centres on the situation which arises when rock star Jerry Wattis is invited to a borrowed mansion for a clandestine dance with a married woman, and her husband and son discover the plan. Mr. Ayckbourn plays a little guitar during sequences, and dances a rock number called "The Riddle" with Dona Martyn, whose acting is first class. The pair are well backed up by William Elmhirst's rather aged laughter-raising schoolboy, David Campton's middle-aged husband, and Faynia Jeffery as the daughter.
As if to disprove the theory, The Square Cat fits into theatre in the round the way Mr. Ayckbourn intended it to do - smoothly and well.
(Copyright: The Stage)