ALAN Ayckbourn is probably one of our best-known living playwrights. Among his 80-plus plays are innovative and interesting ways of exploring theatrical plot and character, usually with a generous weaving of comedy throughout. Intimate Exchanges Volume 1 is one such exploration of structure.

The premise is that from a single action at the start of each play different outcomes follow. In the first few seconds of the play the main character decides whether have a cigarette. A ‘yes’ decision leads to Volume 1, a ‘no’ to Volume 2, and so on, for 16 possible endings (hence plays). It’s partly a philosophical exploration of contingency, or what might now be called ‘sliding doors moments’. Although the whole cycle of 16 possible plays is occasionally performed together, the Playhouse are looking at Volume 1 in isolation.

The Intimate Exchanges series was written in the 1980s when Ayckbourn was left with just two actors to work with after the rest moved on to tour, and although there are only two actors in the production there are many more characters to meet.

Anna Riley and Andy Price have worked together before in the Playhouse’s popular production of Educating Rita. You may also remember Andy Price from Two, with a similar streamlined cast. Excellent actors, they expertly handle the various roles and the demands of such a physical play. Philosophical intrigue aside, it’s also very funny – one not to miss! Intimate Exchanges Volume 1 runs from September 12 to 21.

Two very different events are coming to Ilkley Playhouse later in September. First, we’re celebrating the music of the songbird Dolly Parton in The Rags to Rhinestones Story – An Evening With Dolly Parton. This sees Miss Julia Martin takes to the Wildman Studio’s stage to take us through Dolly’s hits. Julia is the UK’s top Dolly impersonator, and it will be a joy to have her, as it were, on the doorstep. Come along for your Evening with Dolly Parton on Friday, September 27.

Once Dolly has left the building, we will be preparing for our next Stagefright Comedy night on Saturday, September 28. This month we welcome Mitch Benn and Ruth E. Cockburn, to name just two acts. We are lucky to get Mitch, widely acknowledged as one of the best writers and performers of comic songs in the country! According to the Guardian, his act is ‘Well crafted, well sung… his songs are just plain funny’. He’s also known for his deftly-crafted satire. You may have seen him on The One Show in “The Complaints Choir”, Bremner, Bird And Fortune, or The Now Show. As with most music, it’s even better live and in the flesh.

Ruth E. Cockburn has also been winning herself some great reviews on the comedy circuit. She was nominated for Best New Show at Leicester Comedy Festival and made the Top 10 Shows to See at the Edinburgh Festival. Her potent, slightly surreal social commentary is a regular fixture at Manchester’s legendary Frog & Bucket comedy venue, and she’s an established playwright with work performed at numerous festivals from Edinburgh to Sydney.

There is much more to the line-up, and a warm and welcoming atmosphere awaits you! Don’t leave it too late to grab your tickets – bookings for all productions and events can be made at or by calling 01943 609539.

Claire Emmott