Life Of Riley: Synopsis

Cast: 3 male / 3 female
Running time (approximate): 2 hours and 10 minutes - not including the interval
Acting edition: Published as part of Alan Ayckbourn: Plays 5 by Faber

The stage is divided into four distinct areas: Riley’s overgrown garden; Jack and Tamsin’s patio; part of Simeon’s farmyard; Colin and Kathryn’s small patio. George Riley is never seen.

May: Colin and wife Kathryn are rehearsing a play for their local dramatic society. Colin, a doctor, inadvertently reveals one of his patients has terminal cancer. Kathryn deduces it is George Riley and despite being sworn to secrecy calls George’s best friend Jack. He tells his wife, Tamsin, that George has six months to live just as Colin and Kathryn arrive for rehearsals. Jack, desperate to help George, suggests they cast him in the play.

July: George is cast in the play as Tamsin’s partner, leading Kathryn to suspect the pair are having an affair. She confronts Tamsin and tells her she had a relationship with George many years ago which led to her having an abortion. Jack, also suspecting Tamsin of infidelity, asks Colin for advice but accidentally reveals Kathryn’s prior relationship with George. Jack tries to persuade Monica, George’s estranged wife, to go back to George. She later tells her partner Simeon that she loves him, but is considering helping George through his final months.

September: Kathryn tells Colin she is going on holiday with George to Tenerife, which Colin impotently accepts. Colin tells Jack, who tells Tamsin; who has also been asked to go on holiday. At George’s house, where Tamsin and Kathryn have been helping George, Monica arrives to take over and tells them George has suggested she go on holiday with him.
At a 16th birthday party for Jack and Tamsin’s daughter, Tilly, Jack tells Monica that Kathryn is going away with George; Monica retorts that she’s going on holiday with him. After Jack and Tamsin have an argument, she also reveals she is going on holiday with George; who meanwhile has been spending time most of the party dancing with Tilly. The three women confront each other and realise George is attempting to sort out their lives and relationships. Following the final night of the play, each of the women realise what is at stake and commit to their relationships, but Tilly is missing….

November: George has died whilst para-gliding in Tenerife with Tilly. At the funeral, Jack is struggling to come to term with George’s actions - albeit innocent - with his daughter. The emotion of the moment overwhelms all three couples, the tears more for themselves than George. They leave, watched by Tilly.

Copyright: Simon Murgatroyd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.