As tipped last week (News, 4 Jul 02), Alan Ayckbourn's "Damsels in Distress" trilogy will transfer to London this autumn following a regional tour. The three plays - GamePlan, FlatSpin and RolePlay - will run in repertory at the West End's Duchess Theatre from 4 September 2002, with an official opening day for all three on Saturday 7 September.

GamePlan, FlatSpin and RolePlay are the prolific Ayckbourn's 58th, 59th and 60th plays, respectively. All three are entirely separate comedies, but they are written to be performed by the same cast, using the same set (a luxury apartment in London's Docklands). The original seven-strong company - Robert Austin, Saskia Butler, Bill Champion, Tim Faraday, Jacqueline King, Alison Parageter and Beth Tuckey - reprise their roles in each, both on tour and in the West End.

All three plays are directed by Ayckbourn himself and designed by Roger Glossop, with costumes by Christine Wall and lighting by Mick Hughes. The trilogy is presented in the West End by Michael Codron, Lee Dean, Michael Linnit, Andrew Lloyd Webber and David Ian for Clear Channel Entertainment.

The Damsels in Distress trilogy premiered last summer at Ayckbourn's own Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough. This past January the trilogy opened the now-troubled Gala Theatre in Durham at the start of a three-month regional tour. Its new tour opens in Milton Keynes on 22 July 2002 and continues until 31 August to Cambridge, Bath, Brighton, Malvern and Richmond.

Ayckbourn's other recent Scarborough-to-London transfers include Things We Do for Love, the Olivier award-winning Comic Potential and his interrelated House and Garden, which were performed simultaneously on two stages by one cast at the National Theatre. A revival of his 1975 comedy Bedroom Farce, starring Richard Briers and June Whitfield, has just finished a season at the Aldwych.

Currently dark, the West End's Duchess Theatre is about to play host to a reprisal of David Hare's one-man meditation on the Middle East, Via Dolorosa, which is booking for a limited season from 18 July to 31 August (previews from 16 July).

- by Terri Paddock