Articles by Alan Ayckbourn

This article about By Jeeves was written by Alan Ayckbourn and intended for the world premiere in 1996.

By Jeeves

By Jeeves is a very distant relative (probably a nephew) of an earlier work by Andrew and me called simply Jeeves.

Although the two share much the same parentage, namely Wodehouse's and our own, they could not be more different.

The 1975
Jeeves production was very much a West End Affair. It was also a sizeable flop. It had a lot of actors, large numbers of musicians, dozens of technicians (including a flying ballet) and a huge stage crew. The total bill and consequently the total financial losses seemed quite staggering, particularly to someone like myself, used to running entire year long seasons of regional repertory theatre in Scarborough on a third of that sum.

It's been said that large musicals are like big liners. Relatively simple to launch - there's always some fool ready to part with his money - they are then almost impossible to stop. Iceberg ahoy, shouts the forward watch. Full astern, shouts the creative team in vain. People start to jump (or indeed are thrown) overboard in the panic; the director (always), actors, musicians (usually the first to run), arrangers, even writers. But inevitably the unstoppable finally hits the immovable and the result is unsalvageable.

So why are we doing it again? Well for fun, really. Sorry about that. Can't think of a deeper reason, offhand.

Nevertheless, we had to acknowledge that it was definitely a case of all hands back to the drawing board. The result is
By Jeeves, more of a rowing boat constructed in the much smaller Scarborough yard.

Admittedly we are, when rowing, forced to sit with our back to things so we still haven't the faintest idea really of where we're going or what lies beyond the next bend. What would be the fun if we could?

But in case of foul weather, at least we can turn the damn thing round and row like hell for the shore.

Copyright: Haydonning Ltd. Please do not reproduce without the permission of the copyright holder.