Articles by Alan Ayckbourn

This extract about Arrivals & Departures was written by Alan Ayckbourn for the preface to Alan Ayckbourn: Plays 6, published in 2018.

Preface to Alan Ayckbourn: Plays 6 (extract)

In 2013, again playing with time somewhat, came Arrivals & Departures. Despite a relatively large cast, it is essentially a two-hander. Two complete strangers, opposites in every way, in age, sex, disposition and social level, meet at a railway station and over the course of barely an hour in each other's enforced company grow gradually closer. With just the hint that were the relationship to continue it might lead to an unlikely friendship between these two lonely people, despite the fact that at the end of their meeting they know precious little more about each other than they did when they met.

But we do, we know all about them. Through a series of brief flashbacks, hers in Act One and his in Act Two, we are able to piece together fragments of their respective pasts. Both acts cover the same time periods with the same events occurring and with only minute alterations in the dialogue. The differences are in the flashbacks, telling two very different stories of people who couldn't be less alike.

Indeed, it's an experiment in storytelling. But I felt an interesting one. In some ways,
Arrivals & Departures is possibly the closest I've ever been to writing a tragedy

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