RolePlay

by Alan Ayckbourn

RolePlay had 4 performances over 9 years ago (between the 15th of July 2009 and the 18th of July 2009) at The Riverhouse Barn

This play takes us into familiar Ayckbourn territory - one liners - tense silences - and the desperate efforts to end them; all fuelled by strongly drawn characters and escalating tension. The play is set in a modern Riverside apartment somewhere in the London Docklands area.

The modern middle classes might think they have tamed the docklands area with their trendy lofts overlooking the Thames but Ayckbourn knows how to expose the fear behind their eyes. If you read between the laughs in ‘RolePlay’ you can see a dissection of what currently terrorises the city dwellers. Some of these fears have been Ayckbourn fodder before i.e. class anxiety, the approval of other generations, and the danger of your fiancée turning into her mother. However in ‘RolePlay’ Ayckbourn reflects on the new world order i.e. the fear of losing your best loved child to a world of immigrants, multi culturism and other kinds of pluralist changes.

In RolePlay events revolve around a dinner party in a trendy Docklands apartment in which a couple (both software types) are preparing to inform their disparate parents of their intention to marry.

Justin and Julie-Ann's chatter about matching forks and whether Mummy and Daddy will approve is interrupted by the arrival of a lap dancer and her minder who live in the penthouse above (owned by an unseen heavy who might have ruled the neighbourhood before the yuppies arrived). Petit Paige arrives by falling from one balcony to the next. Her Minder comes via the front door, which he promptly locks lest Paige's violent boy friend turns up. This turn of events mean that there is mounting pressure to hold their dinner plans together just as Justin's alcoholic mother Arabella arrives, pissed as a newt. Much of the conflict of the play then flows from the appearance of Derek and Dee Jobson, Julie-Ann's garden centre owning parents from Yorkshire. Ayckbourn exposes their frailties, their false emotional honesty and above all their prejudices. "Each has his own ornamental pond" says Derek, searching for an apt racist metaphor.

The havoc reeked on this meticulously planned evening is brilliantly orchestrated and is tempered by subtle insights into family relationships, class distinctions, and racial prejudice.

Characters The play offers some sharply drawn characters for 4 women and 3 men. All the characters play a role and are not true to themselves.

They all have fears which they seek to hide:

JULIE-ANN tries to play the role her parents have mapped out for her as the perfect daughter and potential wife and mother; living a life where everything is sweetness and light and nothing sullies her world. JUSTIN is confused about what role he is meant to have in the modern world He tries to play the role of a prospective husband but it does not fit well. He most fears his fiancée will turn into her mother. PAIGE has played the role of a raunchy lap dancer for 5 years to cover up her abusive home life and to earn money to escape .She fears her violent husband Rudy. MICKY is forced by circumstances to play the role of minder to his violent boss, whom he fears. DEREK plays the role of the upright citizen who knows what’s right and lives by the rules. Scratch beneath the surface and he is a scared man who puts down others who aren’t like him to make himself feel good. A racist, controlling bigot he fears losing his youngest daughter to immigrants. DEE plays the role of the devoted wife and mother but has never found her own voice, or opinions. She fears Derek’s disapproval or any change to her comfortable existence. ARABELLA plays the role of the suave, sophisticated socialite but drinks to cover up her loneliness and insecurities.

For a full description of each character see 'Cast' tab below

A flyer giving booking details for this production can be downloaded from http://rdg.org/flyers/RolePlay.pdf

Application pdf

Download flyer

Click here to download a copy of the flyer for this production.

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Julie-Ann Jobson - Michelle Blake

25/ 30ish At the start of the play she is very stressed out as she desperately tries to prepare for what she considers to be the most important dinner party of her life. One where her fiancé will meet her parents, and she will meet her future Mother in Law and they will all learn of their impending marriage. Julie Anne is the baby of her family and the apple of her parents’ eye. She is their dream child and consequently lives her life in a fantasy bubble. In her eyes the dinner party must be perfect, and her wedding plans (no sex for 12 weeks before) read like a novelette. Julie Anne is desperate to control her environment and keep out anything that might sully her perfect little world. Easily worked up when things don’t go according to plan, her accent shows traces of her Yorkshire roots. A fluffy, pretty-pretty girl with an over sweet voice and manner. Dressed in a flowery, girl next door kind of way, she tries to live her life in a protective pink bubble of sweet perfection.

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Justin Lazenby - Nick Lund

30ish He has some very good, sarcastic, caustic one liners, but is rather lost and directionless in his designer flat and posh clothes. His mounting horror at the evening’s developments should be clearly marked as he increasingly feels he needs to escape from a situation in which he feels trapped. An attractive software designer, he likes playing cricket and is dominated by his posh, overbearing mother who thinks he is boring. He fears being trapped into Julie-Anne’s protective pink bubble of the perfect life which is planned to perfection. His desire to escape is fuelled by the sight of Julie Anne's mother and by Paige's feisty personality and very erotic lap dance!

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Paige Petite - Nancy Lund

30 ish A young woman who is up against it, she has an hilarious first entrance, falling from the upstairs balcony in the pouring rain. She is an attractive cockney East End girl who is bloodied but unbowed. A retired lap dancer she is the victim of domestic violence and needs to escape from Rudy and an abusive relationship of five years. She is angry and despairing about her meaningless life. At the peak of her frustration she performs an hilarious, raunchy lap dance to the assembled dinner party, but mainly to Justin. Funny, feisty, and very, very, vulnerable.

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Micky Rale - Adam Roberts

40 ish An ex-boxer, he is well built and has a brooding presence. He is a thick, gun-toting minder who speaks in monosyllables. He has some very good one liners which add to the comedy. In the thrall of his violent boss Rudy he is trapped in his present life style. He has no imagination but does manage to escape in Rudy’s black Mercedes with Justin's fabulous mother.

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Derek Jobson - Keith Bollands

60 ish A bluff, bigoted Yorkshire businessman - caught up in his own self importance, conformity, and seemingly permanent self-congratulatory manner. He has very rigid views about what is "right". In the garden centre business, and looking like a garden gnome, he sees this as his last chance to find a suitable son and heir. He tells awful jokes and bullies his wife and daughters. He uses his own brand of domestic violence although he sees himself as a pillar of British society.

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Dee Jobson - Linda Russell

50 ish Prim and proper with an awful laugh which her daughter has inherited! Under Derek 's thumb she obediently laughs whenever he coins a new witticism. Indecisive and dithery she has not been allowed to develop her own opinions. Motherly and over protective of Julie Anne she is joined at the hip with Derek. She has passed on her dreadful singing and silly laugh to Julie Anne.

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Arabella Lazenby - Frankie Godliman

50 ish Good looking and very, very stylish , she is an an upper crust alcoholic, (very Ab-Fab!) When she arrives she is already the worse for drink but carries it off with a certain aplomb. Forever indiscreet she is constantly putting her foot in it and getting the wrong end of the stick. In between swigs of brandy she becomes more and more tactless but desperately fights to keep her dignity and maintain the social niceties. She likes men and has had a few, most of them disastrous relationships. Mickey’s obvious physical charms take her eye!

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Director - Judith Dolley

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Stage Manager/Set Construction Assistant/Properties - Liz Thomas

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Set Design and Construction - John Godliman

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Set Construction Assistant - Emma Dudley

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Set Construction Assistant - Nick Lund

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Set Construction Assistant - Clare Pinnock

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Set Construction Assistant - Adam Roberts

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Set Construction Assistant - Linda Russell

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Set Construction Assistant - Ian Thomas

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Set Construction Assistant - Nancy Lund

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Lighting - Bill Payne

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Lighting Assistant - Gareth Woodford

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Sound - Ian Santry

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Continuity - Jill Payne

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Flyer and Programme Design - Anne Nunn

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Photography - Alan Bostock (www.photoeyes.biz)

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Front of House Manager - Colin Dolley