Interview: Daily Telegraph (9 October 2017)

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

‘I’m Mr Regional now, not Mr West End’

by Ben Lawrence

Not all of his new work has been successful.
The Divide, a sprawling piece about subjugated women in a dystopian future which debuted at Edinburgh this summer, was described by The Daily Telegraph as “more punishment than play”.

“It [
Taking Steps] was done so badly, and the curtain came down in absolute silence and all I could hear was the sound of my wife crying. I wondered how the director could have killed a show that had so many laughs. A farce dies publicly – everyone can see it falls on its own face.”

“People say, ‘Oh you always write about the middle classes’, and I say ‘No. That was 1968 for God’s sake!’”

“He [Peter Hall] said: ‘Alan, I know you feel you can do without the National Theatre, but ask yourself this: can the National Theatre do without you?’ On the way home I suddenly wondered what the hell he was talking about. Of course the National could do without me. He was the consummate con man!”

“I prefer to be called Mr Regional these days. I have withdrawn from the West End because of the hassle and its insistence on star casting, which is ludicrous. The damage is that some of them can’t do it and then some of them come with a preconceived image, so they bring their own fans who expect certain things. You get an actor who thinks ‘Thank God I’ve finally got out of playing the doctor in
Hollyoaks and can be the psychopath on stage’. And that doesn’t please the fans when they see nice Doctor Williams slashing and cutting. It doesn’t do the play any good either. And the idea that someone is slightly more important in terms of billing or focus is wrong. Everyone in my rehearsal room has an equal weight.”