(Dominic Cavendish's article appeared in the Telegraph, 9/23.)

Way Upstream is the Alan Ayckbourn play which, for all its evident popularity, almost drowned in a tidal wave of negative publicity when it transferred, after a successful Scarborough run in 1981, to the National Theatre the following year.

The huge technical demands of the piece – set on a small cabin-cruiser heading up the River Orb to “Armageddon Bridge” – proved too much when the production was scaled up: 6,000 gallons of water cascaded into the building during previews when the boat hit and split the set’s fibre-glass tank. The press had a field-day .


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