Articles by Alan Ayckbourn

These notes about A Small Family Business was written by Alan Ayckbourn in 1987 in response to correspondence about the play in which the playwright was accused of selling it as a comedy and that it drastically departed from anything he had previously written.

A Small Family Business: A Response

Even at my most optimistic, and I am rarely that, I have never sought to ignore real life in my plays. Though in the past many have chosen to ignore the underlying sadness and savagery in them and treated them as jolly romps, alas.

A Small Family Business is not a comedy. I don't describe it as that. It is a play. It has humour in it; it also has sadness. And some anger. Above all, I hope it has truth.

It says what I want to say about the state of the nation today. That collectively it is as greedy; selfish, and as lacking in any overall moral leadership, as over-obsessed with the material as opposed to the spiritual as any this country has seen.

The play postulates that even if there was a truly honest man he would be hard pressed not to be corrupted, so ill-defined and shaky is our current code of moral conduct, the border lines between right and wrong.

It concludes that not one of us can distance ourselves from the distress and sorrow around us. Nothing terribly original. I think Jesus said it and several Greek Dramatists before him.

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