Life Of Riley (2011)This article was written by Alan Ayckbourn for the introduction to Alan Ayckbourn: Plays 5.
From a play in which the central character, although onstage is seldom noticed by the other characters [My Wonderful Day], to a play where the central character never appears at all. In Life of Riley, written and first performed in 2010, we gradually learn everything about the terminally ill George Riley through his friends and loved ones. Naturally, each has a different take on a varied, sometimes very different George. For Katherine, he was her first love that she romantically remembers. Her view of him flatteringly misted by time. For Monica, his more recently estranged wife, who bore the day to day brunt of George’s volatile, eccentric behaviour until she could no longer bear it and for Tamsin, the neglected wife of George’s best friend Jack, the temptation of a retaliatory extra-marital fling.
From all this, we are left to draw our own picture of George, charismatic or just plain infuriating, romantic or impetuously childish, deeply loved or downright infuriating. There is little doubt that the departure of such a positive person will mean that the lives of those he leaves behind will never be quite the same again.
The group are linked by a common interest in amateur theatricals (not the first time I have strayed into this area) but the first time they have been rehearsing a play of my own, the 45 year old Relatively Speaking. Incestuous? Possibly. But then Life Of Riley was after all my 74th play, so I hope I can be forgiven.
Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn. Please do not reproduce without the permission of the copyright holder.