Articles by Alan Ayckbourn

These notes about Woman In Mind were written by Alan Ayckbourn following an enquiry about the play in 2005.

Thoughts on Woman In Mind

My only thought on Woman in Mind is, as with all my plays, to play it truthfully and trust the laughter will be there to run alongside the sadness, which sounds like the most obvious reply but you'd be amazed how often my stuff is wrecked by either broad production or worse still broad acting. It's a fine line to walk, especially for Susan, choosing neither to stray into deep tragedy or broad comedy.

It is a first person narrative play. Ideally, I said, when I first directed it, the lights should dip every time Susan's eyelid's blink - though I wouldn't recommend going down that path literally!

With it, I deliberately break one of my cardinal rules of playwriting in that I encourage the audience to trust a character - as one often does in plays - only for her to betray their trust by suddenly proving herself an increasingly unreliable witness to events. I wanted the audience to be literally thrown into her unstable world as reality and dream sequences become inextricably entangled. In other words we should experience just what it is like to lose touch with the real world, just as Susan does.

It is thus very important that characters like Gerald are not so far out on the limb of outrageous caricature by that stage that we cannot suddenly wonder if the man has a point after all as Susan destroys his precious manuscript. After all, we've only had Susan's word about him up till now and at this stage, how reliable is her word any longer?

In the end, it should be pretty surreal. Susan is going 'nova' and we are in the midst of the explosion right there with her. Events should move fast and grow bewilderingly darker and threatening as her world first explodes into bright colour and then begins to shrink. To complete the solar analogy she finishes up in the darkness of a black hole.

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