One of Huddersfield’s most popular theatre companies, Dick & Lottie, brings Alan Ayckbourn’s Sisterly Feelings, the writer’s first ‘chance’ play, to the stage of the Lawrence Batley Theatre at the end of the month
The innovative and unusual, four-act, 1979 comedy has alternative plots for the central two acts that depend on the toss of a coin and what the actors themselves decide.
Dick & Lottie, the only UK amateur company dedicated to Ayckbourn’s work, will offer audiences the ‘chance’ to see one of four possible versions of the both funny and poignant story. Performances could be different at every show. For those who want to see more than one version, there’s a Saturday matinee and evening performance guaranteed to be different.
John Cotgrave, Dick & Lottie’s artistic director, says the play is rarely performed and a treat for audiences. He added: “It’s one of the least-known plays but we have such a faithful following here that it’s close to selling out. We wanted to do something a little bit different and exciting.”
Sisterly Feelings is about personal relationships and how they are affected by the decisions we sometimes randomly make. It features a family outing at which Abigail, unhappily married to a business executive, Patrick, and her sister Dorcas, attached to the gormless boyfriend Stafford, meet the tanned and athletic Simon, who embodies the desires of both women. His unexpected arrival launches them into a contest for his attentions. When Patrick is called away unexpectedly, leaving the party with a transport problem, who gets to walk home with Simon? A toss of the coin decides whether it is Abigail or Dorcas.
Act two is a picnic four months later, organised by the sister who lost the coin toss, at which the audience discovers who ended up with who. But the choice of the third scene is down to the sister who ‘won’ Simon’s affections.
By Act Four everyone has come to recognise the arbitrary decisions that have changed their lives. As John, a drama teacher at Honley High School, points out, “we’ve all made decisions that have had a lasting impact.” He added: “On the day I got my job at Honley I was offered a job with Virgin Atlantic cabin crew. I made the choice to go to Honley and I’ve always said that Dick & Lottie would never have happened if I hadn’t.”
Sisterly Feelings is Ayckbourn’s 26th comedy and Dick & Lottie’s 30th production. The prolific Scarborough-based writer has produced 81 plays in total.
The show can be seen from Wednesday, May 31, to Saturday, June 3. Tickets are £8 and £12 from thelbt.org.uk or 01484 430528.