Way Upstream

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Way Upstream
Written by Alan Ayckbourn
Characters Keith
Mrs. Hatfield
Date premiered 2 October 1981
Place premiered Stephen Joseph Theatre (Westwood site), Scarborough
Original language English
Subject Power struggles
Official site
Ayckbourn chronology
Season's Greetings
Making Tracks

Way Upstream is a play by Alan Ayckbourn. It was first performed, under Ayckbourn's direction, in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, UK, "in the round" at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, on 2 October 1981.[1] Although realistic in style, with a setting of a hired cabin cruiser on an English river, it can be read as an allegory of the political state of England at the time, with the violent resolution of the usurping captain's tyrannical regime taking place at "Armageddon Bridge", and crew members "Alistair" and "Emma" (representing an innocent "Adam" and "Eve") making a new start at the end.[2][3]

Original cast[edit]

London opening[edit]

The London première was at the proscenium Lyttelton Theatre on 4 October 1982, with Ayckbourn again directing.[4] It had been postponed since August; the production became notorious because of its many technical problems during rehearsal, most spectacularly the bursting of the water tank which flooded the National Theatre.


Critical reception[edit]

At the much-delayed première the excitement of the technical problems distorted the appreciation of some critics with Jack Tinker, representative of the populist Daily Mail, turning up wearing wellington boots.[5] Most, however, found a work of "genuine merit".[2][6]

Other productions[edit]

It is possible to stage the work without a flooded set and it remains popular with both professional companies and amateur societies.[7] It was revived at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in October 2003.[8] In 1987 the BBC adapted the play as a TV movie, but this has never been released on DVD.[9]

BBC Cast[edit]


  1. ^ Ayckbourn, Alan. (1983). Way Upstream: A Play. London: Samuel French. ISBN 0-573-11504-4.
  2. ^ a b Londré, Felicia Hardison (1996). "Alan Ayckbourn". In Gale, Steven H. Encyclopedia of British Humorists. London: Taylor & Francis. p. 70. ISBN 0-8240-5990-5. 
  3. ^ Hayman, Ronald (1984). "Alan Ayckbourn". In Hochman, Stanley. McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of World Drama. New York: McGraw-Hill. p. 247. ISBN 0-07-079169-4. 
  4. ^ Staff. "Past events 1981-1985". National Theatre. Retrieved 15 December 2008. 
  5. ^ Billington, Michael (23 October 2003). "The show must float on". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 December 2008. 
  6. ^ Allen, Paul (2001). Alan Ayckbourn: Grinning at the Edge. London: Methuen. p. 205. ISBN 0-413-73120-0. 
  7. ^ Murgatroyd, Simon (2006). "Way Upstream: Background & History". Alan Ayckbourn's official website. Retrieved 1 October 2010. 
  8. ^ Watson, Ian (24 October 2003). "Way Upstream (Scarborough)". Whatsonstage.com. Retrieved 22 November 2008. 
  9. ^ Way Upstream at the Internet Movie Database

External links[edit]