Family Circles: Synopsis

Cast: 4 male / 4 female
Running time (approximate): To be confirmed.
Availability: Family Circles is available for both professional and amateur production.
Acting edition: Published by
Samuel French.

Administrator's Note: It is hard to argue there is actually a plot to Family Circles, it is essentially a hypothetical question acted out in front of our eyes of “what would have happened had I married someone else and what would have happened to them?”
Three couples come together for a wedding anniversary; each couple seems generally unsuited. During the course of the evening’s events and at the end of each act, the partners change while retaining their original characters. The final scene sees all variants of the relationships mixed together and on stage. Throughout this, there runs a sub-plot of the wives / fiancées trying to discover whether their father is trying to kill their mother.

Synopsis Of Family Circles from Conversations With Ayckbourn (by Ian Watson)


Edward Gray
Emma Gray
Polly (One of their daughters)
Jenny (One of their daughters)
Deirdre (One of their daughters)
Oliver (One of the daughters' men)
David (One of the daughters' men)
James (One of the daughters' men)
Polly, Jenny and Deidre come down to their parents' home for the weekend to help them celebrate their anniversary. Polly and Jenny have their husbands in tow and Deirdre her current man. Looming over the weekend is a persistent rumour that, despite all appearances to the contrary, something is going seriously wrong between Mum and Dad - indeed, that he is trying to do away with her - and right to the end there are little pieces of circumstantial evidence that may be interpreted as hinting at the truth of the rumour. The scenes of the play cover the arrival of the girls and their men: preparing to leave for the celebration dinner; returning from the dinner, and the following morning. By a theatrical conceit (for it is not intended naturalistically as a wife-swapping exercise), the author has each girl paired with a different man in each of the first three scenes, and in the final scene all nine permutations are intermingled, which makes for a hectic denouement. It is difficult to resist Ayckbourn's own assessment of the play when he says, "It is probably not vintage, but it's got a few good laughs in it, the premise of the play being that, depending upon whom you marry, you become slightly different. And it's quite fun to watch."

Copyright: Ian Watson. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.