Interview: The Press (31 May 2002)

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

Life On The Outside

by Charles Hutchinson

“After doing a thriller for three men, people said, 'Oh, you owe women one now', so being a fair man with my company of actors, I've written this one
Snake In The Grass for three women."

"I've always wanted to do a thriller that starts in sunlight in a garden, and slowly the darkness comes in as the sun sets. But there's not a clap of thunder or any lighting in this play as it's more a study of women, and essentially the sisters."

"The idea is to lead them in gently and then gradually terrify them. Like a farce, it requires a certain collaboration with the audience: just as you have to believe a man in a cupboard with his trousers down is desperate, so you have to believe there's a reason fox' the sisters to be frightened - and I think the theatre-in-the-round setting is very good for those prickles on the neck! Like comedy, it's about timing. I always use the analogy, when talking to the actors, that they should remember the scary movie they saw twice. You know when you see it for the second time that nothing happens at a certain point but when you first see it, you wonder what might happen next. It's that combination of what might happen and what does happen, and then you have to have a leavening humour on top of that."

"The thing about open-air sets is that they're infinite rather than finite; and in the garden you behave differently, you sit on the ground, you are more informal. In a sitting room, you don't normally wander to the other side, unless a play has been badly directed, so I love the outdoors and the freer structure it allows for writing. Inside, there has to be a reason for someone to come into a room or leave it; in a garden they can just wander off by saying 'Oh there's a rhododendron'."