Relatively Speaking was the first major hit in a string of more than 60 plays that have put Alan Ayckbourn in the front rank of British playwrights. It was written in 1967, in response to Stephen Joseph's request for a play 'which would make people laugh when their seaside holidays were spoiled by the rain and they came into the theatre to get dry before trudging back to their landladies', and began Ayckbourn's long association with Scarborough and what is now the Stephen Joseph Theatre.
The premiere at the Duke of York's Theatre in London was in March 1967, with a cast including (from left to right) Richard Briers, Celia Johnson and Michael Hordern. Ayckbourn's gifts include acute observational powers, an ear for natural dialogue, and a meticulous attention to the construction of his plots. The combination has produced some of the finest comedies and intricate farces of the British stage including 'Bedroom Farce' and 'A Chorus of Disapproval'. But many of Ayckbourn's plays, like 'Way Upstream' or 'Woman in Mind', have a darker undertow, with black comic twists and profound emotional depths.