The semiotics of, “Roundelay”

Written by Richard McArtney

Roundelay’s construction, as a performance, depends greatly on how the audience want to perceive it. I suppose this can be said of many plays, but with Roundelay we have five separate, but very much interlinked, plays that each have their own beginning and end and even their own genre. You could say that, “Roundelay” is one experience made of five! The audience can enjoy each play without giving a thought to the others, but it is the joy of Ayckbourn’s wonderfully clever writing that can allow the audience to derive comedy and enjoyment from knowing that a line spoken in one play can directly link to another and give you an entirely different view of the whole. Audiences can delve as deeply as they want, and find a myriad of links that make you marvel at a play well written. Five plays can truly become one.

Each play, within that whole, has not only got it’s own title, but is recognisable by it’s own colour. The idea of choosing the running order each night by allowing the audience to choose a coloured ball from a bag reinforces that colour and the set and costume also pay tribute. The reinforcement continues as the stage management wear the appropriate coloured t-shirt to match the play about to be performed. It is not exactly subtle, but this is a great way of creating association.

The Judge is “Red”

The Novelist is “Black”

The Agent is “Green”

The Politician is “Blue”


The Star is “Yellow”

The poster and advertising campaign that we designed therefore had reflect these colours  and give the prospective audience a heads up as to what to expect. We all unknowingly make judgements and associations based on shape, colour and/or design. Have you ever found yourself starring at a product in the supermarket, unaware it is the product you require because the packaging has changed?

From an acting point of view, the actors have lived and worked with these five colours for several weeks and the idea of performing, The Novelist, whilst dressed in red would be like turning up to a Labour party conference in full support of Jeremy Corbyn, whilst wearing a blue tie!

It is with this in mind that we have not only produced a poster covering all 5 colours, but we have also created severa social media images that give you the colour with an image to reflect the play itself. If you’ve seen the play, maybe you can make that association? Your mind does all the work.