September 15, 2004

Intimate Exchanges - Alan Ayckbourn

Thanks to my colleague, David Lie for the following contribution:
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Title - Intimate Exchanges: A Play
Author - Alan Ayckbourn
NLB Call Number - 822.914 AYC
Year of Publication - 1985

The play is in 2 volumes and are available at EPCL and NRL.

What attracted you to read this book?
The opportunity to see how the experimental French director Alain Resnais approached the source material for his 1993 twin films “Smoking/No Smoking” was simply too irresistible.

What do you like about this book/author?
The play is imaginatively conceived and boldly innovative in its attempt to reinvigorate theatrical forms or styles by pushing those boundaries within popular tastes. While the play may be characterized as a comedy that satirizes suburban middle class lifestyle, pretense and human folly, it is also a poignant, penetrating study of marital discontent and the oppression between the sexes. Written for two actors, a male and a female, the play requires the performers to play all ten different roles, a theatrical feat that few works, if any, can match.

What do you dislike about this book/author?
None.

Summary/Main Plot
“Intimate Exchanges” is actually as a series of 8 related plays. Each play follows a four-part structure and concludes with one actor making a decision—sometimes trivial (to smoke a cigarette or not), sometimes significant (to divorce a spouse or not)— and the outcome of that choice will propel the play into one direction or another. In the course of the entire work, at least a dozen “what ifs” scenarios/possibilities are explored, allowing each of the various strands to comment on one another and to expand on the play as a whole. By revisiting similar situations by way of alternatives, the play demonstrates how the smallest of decisions can sometime lead to vastly different outcomes.

Would you recommend this book to others?
Absolutely. If nothing else it can be treated as comic therapy!

David Lie - 13 Jul 04
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