Interview: The Daily Mail (1979)

This interview was published in The Daily Mail on 5 April 1979.

What Drove Ayckbourn Into The Bedroom?

by Shaun Usher

Be honest now: What do you get up to in the bedroom?

Startling answers to that question have just taken Alan Ayckbourn and his play,
Bedroom Farce, to Broadway and another triumphant opening night. For while the title twinklingly hints at sauciness or something stronger, a point of Bedroom Farce is that passion is just about the last thing generated between its dramatic sheets. Ayckbourn's characters talk, read or munch snacks.

Well rested after a night in a Manhattan hotel, Alan Ayckbourn said no, fiction wasn't stranger than fact. The oddest things happen in bedrooms, their common factor being that they have nothing to do with either sleeping or X-certificate frolics.
[1]

"When I was working at the
BBC, this chap started building a wardrobe in bis bedroom, a special gift for his wife. Well, like so many do-it-yourself activities, it started off as a shelf, actually…. But he was slow and enjoyed it no end. He could only work on it at nights, and wandered off into these grand ideas of walk-in cupboards and so on. Last heard of, the project was unfinished after five years and was disrupting the marriage."

Now, having collected many such anecdotes and written
Bedroom Farce, Ayckbourn is an expert.

"An extraordinary case was this couple I heard of who'd lie awake asking each other quiz questions about racing. Who won the 1947 Derby, that sort of thing."

Not being fond of horses it strikes me as a dreadful way to spend an evening. But they he chuckles. Another couple played scrabble most nights, there were the inevitable crossword fans, and several readers.

"I used to be fond of reading aloud to a partner," Ayckbourn confesses, "but they tended to go to sleep on me, and it was terribly bad for my temper, that happening while I was declaiming so splendidly. So I gave it up."

Bedroom Farce, he stresses, was not written in bed. "I do often reverse night and day when I'm working, but I'm up then, and not in pyjamas. It's very dangerous to wake with a great idea for a scene and scribble it down. You get up next morning to find gibberish. It's like the jokes that make you wake-up laughing... they're always terribly flat in daylight."

America provides a fine field of study for him, if he can spare time from Broadway.

"Over here, people watch television or play TV games in bed, have headboards with built-in stereo speakers - and a friend of mine swears that his lady friend plays backgammon all night... when not in the bath, with a floating edition of the game."

As for the author of
Bedroom Farce, now that his horizontal readings have been suspended, what does he do in bed?

"Sleep the clock round," he replies.

Website Notes:
[1] 'X certificate' refers to the movie rating system of the time; X certificate being an adult movie, the equivalent of an 18 rating in the UK today.

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