Interview: Cosmopolitan (June 1974)

This page reproduces some of Alan Ayckbourn's significant quotes from the interview.

In And Out Of The Wedding Ring

by Philip Oakes

"It was an appallingly cynical start [to his marriage]. My wife Christine and I were both acting in rep and one week we were playing in Leicester where the bookings were very thin. The company manager had this bright idea. 'We need a good publicity stunt,' he said. 'Now, we've seen you two in the back of the van a few times, so why not announce your engagement. It would be wonderful for the papers.' So we duly got engaged and there was this lovely photo on the front page of the local rag saying 'Actors find love in Leicester'. The plan was that we should get 'disengaged' when we got to Newcastle, but somehow we never got round to it. We got married instead."

"At the start I was too insecure and nervous to let my private life start shining in public. But lately I've been digging back and my plays are becoming more and more personal."

"The greatest charm of marriage, in fact that which renders it irresistible to those who have once tasted it, is the duologue, the permanent conversation between two people which talks over everything and everyone until death breaks the record. I'm certain that this, above all, is what holds a marriage together. It sounds ridiculous to reduce it to the word 'familiarity', but that's what it is; something commonplace and marvellous. Occasionally - and sometimes more often than that - one is tempted to go off and start again with a new woman or a new man. But you're faced with the sheer effort of having to create a brand new relationship, and all this domestic shorthand you've absorbed - when you can actually grunt across a room and your partner knows what you mean and can grunt back - is immensely satisfying. It can be nauseating to an outsider I'll admit. But it's like what you try to create in the theatre, a bond between you and somebody else that is unbreakable. And one of its consequences is that the poor Other Woman or Other Man never stands a chance because they can never quite catch the dialogue."