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The Essence Of Love

    by Philip Ayckbourn


     

Synopsis

'The Essence of Love' by Philip AyckbournA mother and her daughter; a father and his son find themselves on neighbouring hotel terraces in Marrakech. The ‘holiday in the sun’ soon threatens to be clouded by the usual family tensions. Middle-aged Martin, a divorcee and perpetual skirt-chaser, is an embarrassment to his angry, young artist son, Tom. Meanwhile, on the adjacent terrace, the hedonistic Diana, a fellow divorcee and amateur thespian, equally infuriates her diffident daughter, Gemma.

Encountering a local street trader, Diana receives a gift of a powerful love potion and decides to put it to the test. Initially she considers using the potion to help her daughter, but can’t resist the temptation of getting attentions for herself. A few drops added to Tom’s water bottle has the young man instantly besotted. The unlikely new couple venture out to explore the souks, leaving Martin to try his sweet-talk on the unfortunate Gemma. While choking on a peanut, it’s Gemma’s turn to imbibe some of the spiked water, which has her falling unreservedly for Martin. Act One culminates with the two being discovered in passionate embrace, much to the horror of the returning Diana… and Tom.

Act Two finds Diana in a quandary. Obtaining an antidote, she intends to remedy things, but again falls victim to her own desires. Complications ensue, fuelled by misplaced affections. Is the love that Tom declares for Gemma genuine? Will Martin get over his newfound self-obsession? And can Diana act beyond her own self-interests in order to rectify the situation?

The play is a lively comedy-farce that takes a wry look at the madness of infatuation and what remains when passions have run their course.

A CD of incidental music especially composed for this play is available and having been used during the premiere production, is recommended for use at future productions by the author.

'The Essence of Love' is Philip Ayckbourn's first full-length play. Son of the prolific and hugely successful Sir Alan Ayckbourn, Philip began writing stories as a young schoolboy, and now works mainly in the theatre as a writer, director, and actor. He trained for three years in London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) and, together with Judi Armstrong, founded the Quorum Theatre Company in 1997. From humble beginnings performing Shakespeare in parks around London, the company now regularly performs in the UK and the south of France.


Duration

100 mins approx (exc interval)

Characters

(3m, 2f)

Diana – a dramatic and flamboyant woman in her forties
Gemma – her private and sensitive, nineteen year old, daughter
Martin – a sensualistic, skirt-chasing divorcee in his forties
Tom – his withdrawn and artistic son in his early twenties
Abdul-Hamid – A Moroccan street vendor in his fifties (can be played by Martin, if required)
Young Street Vendor - a voice offstage

     

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