Time And Time Again: Quotes by Alan Ayckbourn"The play invites us to explore the tale of an eternal quadrangle. A girl and three men. One man she wants, one she used to want and another she doesn’t want at any price. The one she doesn’t want doesn’t want her associating with the one she does want; whilst the one she used to want mistakenly thinks she wants the one she doesn’t want. As for the one she does want – he doesn’t know what he wants."
(Time And Time Again programme, 1983)
"It's an attempt more and more to get comedy to spring out of the characters and their relationships."
(Financial Times, 8 July 1971)
"It was a very simple plot, by my standards, and the characters grew. It was an experiment in which I wrote about a totally inert central figure. Most plays have at the centre a motor force character, but this man does nothing, makes no decisions. What he does is opt out all the time."
(The Times, 4 July 1972)
"It's a very odd play really, odd for me. Anybody who has seen the two others [Relatively Speaking & How The Other Half Loves] might expect to see a fair old mess-up, people mistaking each other for each other's grandfathers - that sort of thing. This is about a sort of misfit in a rather conventional family who thinks he has fallen in love with a girl who thinks she has fallen in love with him; and neither of them have really, and he finishes up without her. How's that for a plot; it really isn't a story. Some people say the ending is sad, others say it's about how men can do perfectly well without women if they have to. I don't think it's about that. Some people can do without some people. This just happened to finish the way it did. One avoided the boy gets girl ending because it was dishonest, having worked a whole play about two people who are not destined to get together."
(Plays And Players, September 1972)
"The interesting thing about Time And Time Again is that I have upset the balance. The central character should be the driving force. I wanted to write a total vacuum, a central character who took no decisions, did nothing, everything was done for him and by simply taking no decisions he affects the whole course of the play. Doing nothing, he upsets about five lives. He comes through it in the most extraordinary way; everybody else ends up miserable. Like certain characters in life, he attracts people who have an irresistible impulse to push him in one direction, but he slides out of the push. Some people get angered by this type, others get concerned."
(Plays And Players, September 1972)
"There's a terrible man in Time and Time Again called Graham, who is the monster bore of all time. He rambles on at great length. He was a wonderful man to speak and he got bigger and bigger when I was writing it. I had to cut it down a bit because one got his speech patterns going and one was able to talk as a Graham for hours on any topic."
(The Times, 5 January 1976)
"I remember it, I suppose, as a conscious effort on my part to break away from mechanical plays where the plots ground on remorselessly and the characters were borne along by the tide of events.
"I resolved to try and let my characters dictate the action and not vice versa in future. Actually, with Time And Time Again, it didn't quite work out that way as my central character Leonard is almost entirely inert. A sort of Judo hero who prefers to use the body-weight of his adversaries to create movement.
"All the rules of playwriting tell you to concentrate on a central character directing events and driving the plot. Leonard is driven not by plot but by the actions of the other characters."
"In this particular play I wanted to explore the possibility of a play in which the central protagonist (Leonard) did virtually nothing - was a completely inert figure - yet through his very inertia, still drove the play. This, of course, is completely the reverse of what we normally mean by a protagonist.
"It's really the study of male rivalries, sporting and sexual. In the end, Peter and Leonard remain friends because their male friendship is more important than any love for a woman. It's meant to be ironic!"
"I wrote this play in 1971 when society - certainly the trimmings, mobile phones, computers, social morals, sexual attitudes - were rather different. Sexual attitudes have changed, certainly for women, who have gone extreme and then come back again! What doesn't seem to have changed at all are the attitudes of men and women. They still want the same things. They still go to equal lengths to get them; and they still go to even greater lengths, occasionally, to prevent others from getting them. To that extent, nothing's changed. I think there's still plenty we can recognise of ourselves in Time And Time Again....
"We did it in July 1971 at The Library theatre and again in the 'middle building', the Westwood, in 1986, and it's one of the plays in the canon that's not done as much as the others, although it was very popular when it was first done. I thought it would be a nice contrast to my latest play, Improbable Fiction, and it's also probably new to a lot of the audience, and some of the cast were not born when it was written!
"You need a pond in it, and we managed to flood the Reading Room at The Library the first time we did it, which made me rather unpopular. I'm doing this new production in period, simply because of those changes of attitude that might seem a little strange now, Not only mobile phones but also Leonard going into bat in cricket boots with studs; they don't have them now... I remember when we first did it, the Chappell brothers, Ian and Greg, were the anchor of the Australian team and they both came to see it. I was really pleased that the cream of the Aussies watched it!
"The scheming girl, the guy who opts out, the lecherous man, it all seems a bit sleazy now but that gives this play another life. It was probably the third play of mine that went into the West End, and when it was offered to Tom Courtenay by director Eric Thompson, he expressed grave doubts, saying it wasn't as funny as the other two. I remember his nervous reaction that he might have bled all the humour out of it as he was known as a serious actor at the time, and I said, 'No, no, it's just a different play'. Though it was darker than my earlier plays it was by no means as dark as I was to become, it was medium dark, but I knew I was writing something that was a departure far me. I thought, 'I hope this is going to work, as it starts with a funeral, and that's not normally high comedy.'"
(Yorkshire Evening Press, 29 July 2005)
Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn