THIS collection of hilarious playlets represents Alan Ayckbourn at the peak of his powers.

Each one of these linked sketches strips bare the human condition, observational masterpieces in their own right, yet very much dependent on the previous piece.

We’ve all met these people along life’s highway. Russell Dixon as an almost geriatric philanderer may be a hard concept to swallow, yet is entirely plausible as the village fete organiser who also shares his affections – via a megaphone - with the sound of his own voice.

Then there is Richard Stacey’s hysterical portrayal of the hotel lounge lothario trying to get two women drunk and entice them back to his room. The greater his desperation sets in, the more his chances wilt.

Stephen Billington is an absolute hoot as the waiter who must not only suffer the reptilian slitherings of Stacey’s character, but is then obliged to cope with an atrocious restaurant couple, one of whom has a dark secret. This was a truly brilliant, sustained piece of acting.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Boag and Emma Manton dip deep into a bran tub of clichés, but still manage to pull a few surprises out of the sawdust. Boag’s Mrs Pearce had me laughing like a drain, while Manton’s Rosemary was entirely convincing as the harassed mum who hadn’t climbed out of her dressing gown and slippers for three weeks.

In quick succession, we are confronted with situations that will ring any number of bells. Who hasn’t been lumbered with the bore who insists on acquainting you with every tedious detail or their life story?

And let’s not be too smug, for the lessons of the stupendous park bench finale apply to all of us… with no exceptions.

This highly entertaining showcase of Britain’s most prolific and best-loved playwright is part of a week celebrating Ayckbourn’s work and runs until Saturday (March 5).