Woman In Mind, the transfer from Scarborough of Alan Ayckbourn’s dark comedy, has been hailed by critics as a reminder of quite how brilliant a playwright Ayckbourn is. First produced in 1985, this revival at the Vaudeville Theatre stars Janie Dee. Michael Billington in the Guadian said that she, “proves as compelling as Julia McKenzie in the original”, and the play confirms Ayckbourn’s status as “a master of tragi-comedy”.
Charles Spencer in the Telegraph calls Dee “magnificent” and hails the play as a suburban King Lear in which, “Ayckbourn’s production powerfully captures the dark humour, sharp pain and sheer weirdness of this remarkable play”.
However, it’s not all superlatives. Sarah Hemming in the FT, whilst positive, felt that the two halves were very unbalanced in terms of pace, “the first half moves so slowly that it drifts, and the audience with it… the conceit remains ingenious, but a lighter-fingered, brisker production might have increased the poignancy of the play”. This is backed up by David Benedict in Variety who says that the play remains fine but it’s a “curiously flaccid production”.