Taking Steps (—)

This article was written by Alan Ayckbourn for a programme for an unknown production of Taking Steps.

I’ve written very little true Farce. The trouble with Farce is that it is either successful or it isn’t. Not a lot of leeway for error.
There are plenty of Straight Plays that aren’t all that marvellous; but at least they’re interesting. Whoever heard of an interesting farce? It’s either funny or it isn’t funny. And if it isn’t funny you can hear the silence that reigns instead and that isn’t at all funny.
You can have a Comedy that’s fairly funny. Not funny all the time because, being slightly better bred than common old Farce, being a Comedy it has one or two things of Deep Importance to say which require that we endure a rather reverential bit occasionally (referred to in the musical hall world as the “But seriously now, folks…” moment). This is known as the Dramatist making a Serious Point (see also Bid For Posterity).
But with Farce, you’re on a hiding to nothing. You don’t get fairly funny Farces. Well, not after the second night, you don’t. The Game is Up. Everyone knows what you so lamentably failed to achieve. A great deal of laughter. Unlike the Comedy writer who can smile mysteriously when confronted by a member of his audience who failed to crack a smile all evening. “Ah,” he can murmur, “but maybe you were never intended to laugh, had you considered that?”
Taking Steps is a Farce. It’s meant to make you laugh. If it doesn’t, I’m sorry. If it makes you cry, have a word with the director as I refuse to take responsibility for that as well.
It was written to be played in-the-round, originally. Which is why it is, unusually, a Farce with absolutely no doors. Instead it has floors.

Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn. Please do not reproduce without the permission of the copyright holder.