Articles by Alan Ayckbourn

This article about Absurd Person Singular was written by Alan Ayckbourn for an unrecorded production in 1981.

Absurd Person Singular

Absurd Person Singular was written, like all my plays, especially for the Scarborough Theatre Company which, at that time, 1972, was still doing purely summer seasons at its tiny Library Theatre in the Round. It opened, I remember, in a heat-wave and the theatre with its flock wallpaper, parquet flooring and somewhat precarious temporary seating rostra was like a furnace. But then it was a Library Lecture Room and had never been built as a 250 seat auditorium.

Despite its enormously long running time that night - I think our technical staff were stretched to their limits creating three kitchens on the first floor of a library - it remains one of the most successful first performances of mine that I’ve ever not sat through.

It was, I suppose, particularly satisfying because it was the first time I’d ever had the courage, as a writer, to weave some slightly darker threads in amongst the comic tapestries. In fact, the first time I allowed the characters their own destinies rather than like, say, the puppet master I’d been in
Relatively Speaking to dictate their destinies. It’s ironic in retrospect that having voluntarily given up that role as a writer, I handed it to one of the characters, Sidney Hopcroft.

The play also contains two of my own personal favourite offstage characters, Dick & Lottie Potter. I always feel that whatever criticisms may be levelled at me now and in years to come, in my defence I can say that at least I left the Potters in the wings. This was not always the case. When I first started the play it was intended that it should be set in the sitting rooms of the three households. After only a few pages, along with the rest of my characters, I fled to the kitchen in order to escape the awful Potters.

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