Farce by the Book

DONALD COOPER

Saskia Butler as a tough woman in Damsels in Distress

Now in his fifth decade as a playwright, Alan Ayckbourn is one of British theater's senior knights. But the 63-year-old author of such bittersweet comic masterpieces as House/Garden and The Norman Conquests remains as productive as ever. His latest, Damsels In Distress, is a trilogy of self-contained plays that share the same cast but are unrelated save for the Thames-side apartment in which they are set.

A trilogy might seem a daunting task to most authors, but by now Ayckbourn knows his craft inside out. So much so that he has just published a how-to book, The Crafty Art...

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