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the Complete Review
the complete review - drama


Alan Ayckbourn

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To purchase GamePlan

Title: GamePlan
Author: Alan Ayckbourn
Genre: Drama
Written: 2001
Length: 101 pages
Availability: in Damsels in Distress - US
in Damsels in Distress - UK
in Damsels in Distress - Canada
  • GamePlan was first performed 29 May 2001 at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in a production directed by Alan Ayckbourn
  • The trilogy Damsels in Distress consists of the plays:

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Our Assessment:

B+ : a bit dark and simple, but entertaining

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Daily Telegraph A- 9/9/2002 Charles Spencer
The Guardian . 11/9/2001 Michael Billington
The Guardian . 9/9/2002 Michael Billington
The Independent . 12/9/2002 Paul Taylor
The Independent . 15/9/2002 Kate Bassett
New Statesman . 23/9/2002 Sheridan Morley
The Spectator . 14/9/2002 Patrick Carnegy
The Times . 9/9/2002 Benedict Nightingale
TLS . 20/9/2002 Russell Davies

  Review Consensus:

  Quite good

  From the Reviews:
  • "(T)he first act of the first play, GamePlan, is one of the most powerful, and uncomfortable, in the Ayckbourn oeuvre. (...) The writing is at once near-the-knuckle, touching and outrageously funny, though the dramatist doesn't develop the play as darkly or as daringly as he could and should." - Charles Spencer, Daily Telegraph

  • "(M)uch the trickiest of the plays in that it deals with precocious adolescent sexuality. But Ayckbourn handles it with compassionate skill showing, as he does in the whole trilogy, the gnawing insecurity at the heart of all role-playing." - Michael Billington, The Guardian

  • "The blackest-edged of the plays is GamePlan (.....) But then the play pushes into an altogether darker area, only to re-emerge too quickly and pretend that it hasn't been there." - Paul Taylor, The Independent

  • "This being Ayckbourn, the comedy takes some serious turns." - Kate Bassett, The Independent

  • "Best of the three plays is GamePlan (...) As so often in Ayckbourn, terrible things happen to people who are fundamentally trying to do good, in this case however immorally." - Sheridan Morley, New Statesman

  • "GamePlan is a gift for those of us who like to see Ayckbourn taking risks with his subject-matter." - Benedict Nightingale, The Times

  • "What can happen in practice -- and it does happen in GamePlan -- is that the rolling stone of plot may unexpectedly gather a lot of moss all at once, so that the moral dimension of the play suddenly bulks up into something both queasy and threatening." - Russell Davies, Times Literary Supplement

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       At the beginning of GamePlan the lives of Lynette Saxon and her sixteen year-old daughter, Sorrel, aren't looking too rosy. The man (husband/father) in their lives left with Lynette's partner, the business went under, the dot-com bust wiped them out. Lynette has been reduced to working twelve hour shifts as a temporary office cleaner, and money is very tight -- meaning they'll likely have to move out of their nice apartment overlooking the Thames in the London Docklands. (The entire play -- like all the plays in the Damsels in Distress-trilogy -- is set in the apartment.)
       Lynette is looking for a better job, but in her desperation Sorrel thinks she has to save the day. She has a plan to make money, taking advantage of the Internet and joining the ranks of the oldest profession in the world. She enlists the help of her schoolfriend and neighbour, the slightly dim Kelly Butcher, and half the fun is in watching the girls set up this venture.
       Sorrel thinks it won't be much of a problem. She doesn't much like sex anyway, and the Internet would seem to allow her to go into business safely and anonymously. With Kelly as the maid and minder (charged with being ready to whack the customer over the head if things go wrong (with the predictable result ...)), some suitable props (and enough condoms to service an army), her first client finally comes.
       Leo Tyler isn't a bad guy -- he asks for tea instead of a drink, "tuts disapprovingly" at the girlie magazines the girls have spread out to ... get him in the mood -- but things don't quite as planned or hoped for. The first of the two acts ends with a jolt, and Leo ends up being both the first and last of Sorrel's clients.
       All traces of Sorrel's failed business venture can't be completely erased: not from computer harddrives or Sorrel and Kelly's minds. Eventually, Mom (and others) also find out what happened, which soon leaves the Saxon's position more precarious than ever. Hope, if not redemption, then comes from the most unlikely of sources, a "gossip mag", with Ayckbourn nicely leaving the possibilities open at the end.
       GamePlan is good entertainment. Sorrel and Kelly's bumblings are very amusing, and Ayckbourn moves the piece along at a good pace. If anything, there is too little to it, laughs played over character development. Still, he gets the poignancy in as well, and the desperation of those involved (and at least some of the consequences of their actions) is nicely captured. Good fun.

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GamePlan: Reviews: Alan Ayckbourn: Other books by Alan Ayckbourn under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Drama under review

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About the Author:

       British playwright Alan Ayckbourn was born in 1939. He has written more than fifty plays.

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© 2004-2009 the complete review

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