There's a rare opportunity to see one of Alan Ayckbourn’s most “beautifully-crafted” but least-performed plays, Wildest Dreams, when Huddersfield theatre company Dick and Lottie bring it to the stage of the Lawrence Batley Theatre next month.
The 1991 play, his darkest comedy, features a group of role-playing Dungeons and Dragons enthusiasts and is a particular favourite of the playwright himself as well as being the first Ayckbourn work that one of Dick and Lottie founding directors John Cotgrave saw at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough (where Ayckbourn has had a long association).
John describes the play as “an absolute joy to rehearse.”
He added: “I have done a lot of Ayckbourn plays and this one, I feel, has got the most tender and tragic moments, and the saddest moments.
“It is beautifully crafted. I spoke to Alan last week and told him we were doing Wildest Dreams and he said ‘there’s one I’d like to do again’ – it’s a favourite of his.”
However, John says it’s important to stress that the work is not about the board game Dungeons and
Dragons and doesn’t want audiences to be deterred from coming along.
He explained: “It’s based on the game, but Alan quite categorically says that the play is not about the game. It’s about the four players and their escape into this fantasy world. They lead such a sad and quite dysfunctional existence; they have been playing this game for five years, once a week, and it’s probably the only time they feel happy.
“In this particular play an outsider comes in and completely blows it all apart for them; they become their fantasy characters.
“By the end of the play my character Stanley has quite visibly become his fantasy figure.”
He says the game is a vehicle for exploring the lives of the suburban characters and examining how they escape from their everyday nightmares and problems; creating fantasies that, given the right stimulus, can become reality.
Dick and Lottie specialises in Ayckbourn plays – to date there are 80 full-length works to choose from – and has proved enormously popular with audiences in Huddersfield and further afield.
Alan Ayckbourn’s official website is a patron of the company, which has a mixture of professional and amateur actors.
Wildest Dreams is at the LBT from Wednesday to Saturday, June 1 to 4. Productions usually tour but this one can only be seen in Huddersfield.
As John explains: “We have got something special lined up for the autumn so we’re giving ourselves a break from touring. We’ll be doing a double bill suggested by Alan himself.”