Way Upstream

Definition

Theater

  • A comedy by Alan Ayckbourn, first performed in 1981at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round, Scarborough,where Ayckbourn is artistic director; it was produced at the NationalTheatre a year later.

    The plot centres on Keith and June, who are taking a canal-boatholiday with another couple, Alistair and Emma. The domineering Keithorders his companions about as they wend their way upriver, squabblingall the way. Keith's secretary continually interrupts their holidaywith news of a growing labour dispute at his factory, until Keithfinally has to leave, and soon the boat runs aground. The remainingholiday-makers are rescued by Vince, who claims to be an old handwith narrow boats. Vince soon takes over the expedition, subjectingthe others to a dictatorial regime and revealing himself as a sadisticmaniac. He seduces the grateful June, and becomes involved in a brawlwith the mild-mannered Alistair. Eventually Vince is overthrown andAlistair and Emma head upstream alone. The element of political allegorywas not missed by the original critics.

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