Michael Billington: The ninth play is again, a comedy, but I think a comedy that says something. It's a play called A Small Family Business which Alan Ayckbourn wrote in 1987; the date is significant because this is the decade of Thatcherism and the word Thatcher is never mentioned in Ayckbourn's play but that's what it's about. And what Ayckbourn shows is the contradiction between the celebration of family values and the idea that money is the ultimate goal in life. And he shows these two things, which are the core of Thatcherism, are totally incompatible, and what you see in the play is a family falling apart and trying to pursue integrity but finding their business is based on corruption, double-dealing and the Mafia. It makes you laugh but my god, it makes you think.
21 September 2013 - 19 January 2014. Experience the beauty and allure of pearls which across centuries and cultures have long been associated with wealth, royalty and glamour. This autumn the V&A and the Qatar Museums Authority explore the history of pearls from the early Roman Empire through to present day.