Fringe Box



Stage Dragon: Ayckbourne’s Hero’s Welcome At The Yvonne Arnaud

Published on: 21 Jan, 2016
Updated on: 21 Jan, 2016

Once again, one of Britain’s favourite playwrights, Sir Alan Ayckbourn, renews his strong links with Guildford with his 79th play in 56 years of writing for the stage.

Hero’s Welcome, with the author directing, comes to the Yvonne Arnaud – and it provides a very pleasant evening of thought provoking entertainment.

Hero's Welcome 4

The prodigal son, Murray, returns with his young wife, Baba, to a Hero’s Welcome.

Hero’s Welcome is the story of a prodigal son, Murray, a squaddie coming back to his home town which he left almost 20 years ago under something of a cloud. But now Murray is returning as a hero.

To complicate matters, Murray is also bringing back home with him a new wife Baba, whom he met overseas and who is still struggling to learn English.

Elizabeth Boag in Hero's Welcome

Murray’s ex fiancé, Alice, is now Lady Mayor, and she harbours a considerable grudge against him.

As the story unfolds, we watch as Murray, who plans to settle down with Baba and has the intention of trying to re-establish his parents’ old hotel business, comes to grips with the fact that his former fiancé, Alice, whom he left at the altar, is now the town mayor (not mayoress, thank you) and still nurses a considerable grudge against him.

Ayckbourn takes the opportunity to develop some of his favourite themes.

He looks at the whole question of relationships between the sexes, as well as the effect that time has on people and how this changes those relationships.

Hero's Welcome 3

Battle of the sexes plays out.

Alice has to deal with the fact that whereas 20 years ago she was glamorous, desirable and used to put her finger up to society, today she’s the epitome of respectability, married to the safest sort of man – a loving, doting type who’s completely obsessed with model railways.

Always the master of the throwaway one liner, Ayckbourn also weaves an interesting plot which gradually deepens emotionally. A good cast takes full advantage of his writing.

Richard Stacey, in the lead role of Murray, has a relaxed and natural manner that immediately brings out the man’s anti hero qualities. Murray is an honest and likeable man, who trusts people and is highly reliable; Stacey manages to convey this effortlessly.

Hero's Welcome 1

Evelyn Hoskins as the young wife, Baba, who grows in influence amongst the characters throughout the play.

Evelyn Hoskins, as Murray’s young and apparently innocent wife, manages to pull off the way that her character grows steadily throughout the piece, becoming ever more influential and very convincing in the emotional denouement at the end.

There are also some well observed character performances elsewhere from this cast. Russell Dixon has an excellent feel for the apparently boring, Derek and gradually reveals a depth of character we might not have expected at the beginning.

This a good old straight four-scene play, full of witty asides and one liners that made me smile, but the most entertaining aspect for me was the steady plot development throughout the piece, building to an ending which was compelling and thought provoking.

A very enjoyable evening’s entertainment.

It runs until Saturday, January 23, and tickets are available via the website: or by calling the box office on 01483 440000.

Star rating 4

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