CLAUDINE Toutoungi's play of eyes and lies, Slipping, began life in New York but is now making waves at Scarborough. In between times, it has changed its title too.

"I worked on it initially when it was selected for the Lark Play Development Centre, when it was called Outside In," says the English-Lebanese playwright. "There was a rare call-out for international writers and they picked seven writers for staged readings.There were writers from Israel, Holland, France, Serbia, Canada and a lady from Australia who had travelled 30 hours from Perth.

"They pay your flight and put you up, and if you think of the austerity surrounding theatre over here, what a contrast with New York, where you're there for a week; you watch each other's readings and have lots of discussions and seminars, and you get pumped full of their get-up and go."

Claudine subsequently received the commission from the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, where she also was picked to write Bit Part, one of four Screenplay short works for a summer run in the SJT's McCarthy auditorium.

Meanwhile, BBC Radio 4 also commissioned Claudine's eyes and lies play. "I had two titles in my head, playing around with both Outside In and Slipping, but there'd already been a radio play with the title Outside In, so I had to distinguish it from that," says Claudine, whose radio cast comprised Andrew Scott (best known for his Moriarty in BBC1's Sherlock) and Charlotte Riley.

"The story was the same for the radio version but it had to be a tightly-squeezed 43 minutes, which was quite a challenge as the full play now runs to around 85 minutes, but I actually really liked the short form too – less is more – taking it down to the tighter format, once I got into the swing of it."

Slipping, Claudine's first full-length play, explores the effect of modern living on human relationships in its darkly witty, sensuous story of Elena undergoing life-changing eye surgery at the hands of ocularist Sean. When their relationship crosses the patient-professional boundary, they become embroiled in a complex tangle of sex, lies, deceit and self-deception.

"Where I started was the idea that a woman wearing an eye patch was a striking image," says Claudine, who underwent eye removal herself because of glaucoma, the condition suffered by Elena too.

The eye patch is symbolic of how Elena and Sean treat each other in this psychological drama. "It's that thing of what they reveal and don't reveal to each other; what they conceal or don't conceal," says Claudine. "We live in an age of reinvention where we can show what we want to show and not show what we don't want to show, but does a fake eye make you a fake person? Can you show your true self or are you always compromising?"

Claudine answers her questions in Slipping by setting Elena and Sean on a collision course. "They get rattled when they're attracted to each other and have to consider what they can show and what they can tell ," she says.

After two plays in quick succession at the SJT, she would love to work at the Scarborough theatre again. "It's been a fantastic experience, and when you talk about the SJT, people have that look of approval in their eye because of its long association with Alan Ayckbourn," says Claudine.

"I have various things I'm finishing up, and another radio play is hopefully on the way, if I get through the commissioning process."

Claudine Toutoungi's Slipping runs at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, until Saturday. Box office: 01734 370541 or