Theater: This Realm, This Little England

WAY UPSTREAM by Alan Ayckbourn

For Shakespeare, England was a sceptered isle, another Eden, a blessed plot peopled by "such dear souls." For Alan Ayckbourn, writing nearly 400 years later, it is a dirty, overcrowded cabin cruiser, inhabited by a contentious crew of incompetents who could not navigate a bathtub, let alone the meandering river he provides them in Way Upstream. But, Ayckbourn being Ayckbourn, his newest play, which received its American premiere at Houston's Alley Theater last week, is often also extremely funny, a social allegory that amuses before it frightens.

In a...

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