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Neighbourhood Watch

Alan Ayckbourn's 75th play is dark but funny

Alan Ayckbourn’s 75th play ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ is dark but funny


Neighbourhood Watch
at the Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich

Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 23 May 2015

Alan Ayckbourn’s 75th play is a gem, which he described as one of his ‘darker pieces’.

Apprehension in society is the theme and the Maddermarket team, ably directed by Jude Wyatt, handle escalating madness with consummate skill.

It’s understandable that the small community wish to protect their little world from the perceived threats of the common estate a short distance away. But soon, the Neighbourhood Watch has taken on a life of its own with ID cards, razor wire fences and even stocks to punish ‘wrong-doers’.

Neighbourhood Watch is classic Ayckbourne. Out of the ordinary comes dark comedy and he spotlights undercurrents of insanity that run under calm surfaces. Zanna Foley-Davies and Ian Shephard play the joyfully bizarre brother and sister who’s recent arrival triggers the whole drama.

Their neighbours are an assortment of the eccentric to the downright peculiar to the extreme fascist, played wonderfully by Drew Howard, Neil Bain, Peta Morant, Kate O’Rourke, Emma Kirkham and Michelle Moore.

If you want to laugh until the bitter sweet finale at the way some people live while recognising many of life’s truths, grab a ticket.

Image: John Thaxter

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