Interview: The Press (22 August 2013)

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


by Charles Hutchinson

“There will always be someone who says: ‘Is there any serious content?’ [with
Farcicals] to which the answer is ‘absolutely not’. I wrote these characters who are just joyously silly, and I love them! They’re timeless farce characters, untouched by time and mostly unaware of what’s happening in the wider world. One man is fairly stupid, another is completely stupid, although he thinks he’s the brighter one, like in a Laurel and Hardy comic situation. There’s one woman who’s brighter than most of them - but still not that bright - and another who’s completely daffy. You put them all together, you get the brains of one person.”

“I just had fun with these plays. Really they’re miniatures that are in the tradition of the one-act plays that Chekhov and the Victorians used to write. They rise or fall on whether they’re funny. The big test is that there’s no such thing as a moderately interesting farce. You don’t say, ‘Oh, that was moderately interesting’; you say ‘that was funny’ or not.”

“I may do short plays for a while as long plays are harder, but I also believe that you need to be older to write farces. You need to need to have the necessary technique. I started out with broad comedy but I don’t think I ever wrote farce, although certainly there were farcical elements in
How The Other Half Loves, Absurd Person Singular and The Norman Conquests, but they were only elements rather than the dominant characteristic.”

“They [farces] need to be constructed really carefully because you have to lead the audience gently by the hand, so it’s all a bit of a conjuring trick. As a young writer, you don’t know how to do that. You stare at the holes, but rather than trying to repair them you hope the cast will cope with it, but as an older writer you can deal with any complications more knowingly.”