Season of films - including rare BBC plays - based on Alan Ayckbourn's work screened at Scarborough's Stephen Joseph Theatre

A film based on an Alan Ayckbourn play will be screened at the Stephen Joseph Theatre
A film based on an Alan Ayckbourn play will be screened at the Stephen Joseph Theatre

A mini season of movies based on the plays of Alan Ayckbourn will be screened at Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre as part of the celebrations for the author’s 80th birthday earlier this year.

The Ayckbourn film festival will include French director Alain Resnais’ Smoking, No Smoking and Private Fears in Public Places, and the BBC’s Absent Friends and Absurd Person Singular.

Smoking, September Friday 20, at 2.45pm, and No Smoking, Saturday September 21 at 2.45pm, are both based on Ayckbourn’s epic play Intimate Exchanges, which deals with the consequences of choice and how lives can take very different paths from the smallest to the biggest decision.

The play has eight significantly different plots dependent on the choices made and the films adapts six of these plots – three for each film – as we see the five female characters - all played by Sabine Azéma - and the four male characters - all played by Pierre Arditi- skillfully recapping what might have happened if they had made or failed to make certain choices and how their lives could have been wildly different.

(Screened in French with English subtitles.)

Private Fears in Public Places, Friday September 20 at 7.45pm and Sunday September 22 at 2.45pm, is the second Ayckbourn film adaptation from Alain Resnais, 13 years on from Smoking/No Smoking.

Also starring Sabine Azéma and Pierre Arditi, the story explores themes of alienation and loneliness in the 21st century as it follows the lives and relationships of six loosely linked people in London.

(Screened in French with English subtitles.)

Absent Friends, Saturday September 21 at 7.45pm, was one of many plays adapted for the BBC show Theatre Night in 1985

. It’s never been released commercially, so this is a rare screening. A tea party has been arranged for the recently-bereaved Colin by ‘friends’ and acquaintances.

However, his acceptance of his situation and his fufilling time with his fiancée only serves to highlight and widen the rifts in other relationships. Michael Simpson directs Julia McKenzie, Tom Courtenay, Hywel Bennett, Maureen Lipman, Kate Lock and Dinsdale Landen.

Absurd Person Singular, Sunday September 22 at 7.45pm, another BBC adaptation, was broadcast on BBC1 on New Year’s Day 1985, but despite its success has rarely been seen in the UK cinema, making this another rare screening.

Set in three kitchens over three Christmases, the story charts the relentless rise of the socially aspiring Hopcrofts at the expense of two other couples. Michael Simpson directs Michael Gambon, Maureen Lipman, Geoffrey Palmer, Prunella Scales, Cheryl Campbell and Nicky Henson.

Tickets for the individual films are £7 (concessions available) or see all five for £25.

Tickets are available from the box office on 01723 370541 and online at