There are no less than eight intimate exchanges in this ingenious tour de farce and each has two different endings; you can see Intimate Exchanges sixteen times and not see the same play twice! And one actor and one actress play all 10 characters. This is Ayckbourn's most unusual look yet at the foibles of middle class living.
The plays begin with a women faced with a small, fairly, trivial decision. Should she resist having the fi rst cigarette of the day before 6pm? On some nights her willpower is strong enough, on others is isn’t. The two quite separate chains of events that result from her choice are published under Volume I and Volume II. In each, at the end of the first scene, another character has to make a further decision, the time of a slightly more important nature. As each scene ends further and more crucial choices still have to be made, culminating in a major course of action. Thus each play is a single strand of a much larger web of interconnecting scenes. Simple mathematics will tell you that there are over thirty scenes and sixteen versions, some vastly different, some only slightly so. Yet it is the indigenous group of characters who have to make these decisions that makes Intimate Exchanges so enthralling, so funny and, at times, so poignant.
"There are scores of side splittingly funny lines derived from Mr. Ayckbourn's acute observation of the middle classes at bay, floundering under the pressures of trying to lead, or to be seen leading, respectable lives. The comedy is wry, sardonic and bitter." - The London Spectator
“…scores of sidesplittingly funny lines. The comedy is wry, sardonic and bitter…" - The Spectator
“…very good indeed: funny, moving, painful…” - Observer
“…the accuracy of Ayckbourn’s observations and the devastating shock of recognition he awakens in us all.” - Sunday Express
“Mr. Ayckbourn’s triumph is to communicate the yearnings and disillusionments of the middle classes with sympathy and exactitude in scenes of quite hilarious comedy.” - Giles Gordon