Things We Do For Love: Quotes by Alan Ayckbourn

"[Discussing the play two months before writing it] There's a lot of sex in it, not necessarily full frontal nudity, but sex in the sense of what goes on in the head as well as the body. It's about carnal desire. I haven't really written one like that."
(Yorkshire Post, 19 November 1996)

"Love is a subject that's never far away from our thoughts. This play has come from my observation that we often save the best of ourselves, but also the worst of ourselves for the ones we fall in love with. For every happy couple coming together, there is often a jilted lover in the background; some betrayed husband or wife who has lost out....
"There is that feeling of love being a counter force as well as a positive force, and that's what makes this a comic piece - one of my lighter pieces, you could say....
"This is the first one [end-stage play] since
A Small Family Business in 1987, and I've written it deliberately with the McCarthy shape in mind. The set has three views of the three flats, and on the middle floor you can see all the people involved. This design gives you the opportunity for edited views - and for some steamy love scenes. There's quite a lot of sex in this play, but not enough to turn your aunty away. It's more in the mind, which is the best place for it, I think."
(Yorkshire Evening Press, 26 April 1997)

"It's in part about the way that love disturbs our lives. It's about a woman, Barbara, who has survived, if that's the right word, until she is nearly 40 without a serious relationship. She manages to organise her life rather well. She's got a good job, she lives in her own environment - when she puts something down in the morning, it's still there in the evening. She's got rather used to it and inured to the blandishments of others. She's built a little castle around herself. She has a female friend who's been away for years and years and who's completely the reverse. Nikki goes from one disastrous relationship to another; she's into blokes who treat her rough. She returns from abroad and at last she has her dream man in tow, a gentle Scot who worked in Norway as an oceanographer. Really, it's the story of how Barbara finds love and what it does to her life. It's also about unrequited love. Another character is Gilbert, who's madly in love with Barbara but never declares it. The thing about love is that it never leaves you. You go through life thinking, 'I'm over it now. I've been through my teens, 20s, 30s, that's it. Then, wallop....
"The people who have already seen it wince a bit. It has a recognition factor. It isn't completely roses. It's quite sad but it's upbeat. You come out feeling more positive."
(Yorkshire Post, 26 April 1997)

"It's about love and can we do without it? Only looked at from a sort of different angle. [Barbara is] A woman who's managed to escape until the age of forty without falling in love. She's had a few moments, maybe is a little in love with her boss, but let's not worry about that. The man for her just hasn't appeared in her life, and she's decided she will be very happy without missing it very much. She's like a lot of male bachelors: they get everything sorted out without the disadvantage of living with people. Everything is put where you want it....
"[Barbara and Hamish's instant dislike of each other] most people watchers will know is a sure sign that they will come to blows - of one sort or another. Nikki loses her 'trophy man': Barbara and Hamish have a violent affair. But it's an unwanted violence. At one point Barbara declares 'this isn't love It's terrible'. It happens. At the age of 35 - 45, you decide all that SEX is over. You say, 'let's settle down like civilised human beings' - and then BLAM, the old glandular machine kicks in again. People who've been terrific to their partners through every difficulty are suddenly brushed aside. History is littered by people who have trampled over lovers, wives, best friends to get at each other."
(Artscene, April 1997)

"It's like a lot of my shows, in that I think it's quite dark, and in the end quite upsetting. There are people who sit there and laugh quite unconcernedly; I look at them rather quizzically and wonder where they've been. I always say you enjoy my plays more if you've been round the circuit a couple of tunes. People who have been in and out of love are going to say 'Ouch!', where it may not mean much to the lucky five per cent who got married at 18, and have never had a cross word."
(Birmingham Post, 6 September 1997)

"One [of the play’s themes] was that love - or is it lust? - never goes away; I was interested in this character who assumes that she is above it all. And I wanted to write about the appalling effects of love: people write about romantic couples running about in fountains, but someone invariably gets hurt. And then there is the disruptive aspect of living with someone. I love people who live alone."
(The Bulletin, 11 September 1997)

"[Regarding the movie
In The Line Of Fire being the inspiration for the play's sex scene] It's shot from floor level. They're taking off all this body armour and guns and handcuffs and all you see is this stuff showering on the floor until you hear, 'Beep beep beep... yeah, yeah, we'll be in in 10 minutes. Oh, Christ, we gotta put all this on again.' It's a wonderful sex scene and I thought I'd love to shoot a stage play from the feet....
"I was very worried it [The McCarthy auditorium at the Stephen Joseph Theatre] would become known as our 'studio', a space where you put on plays for brownie points that nobody wants to see. So I wanted to put my money where my mouth was....
"I wanted to write about the destructive effects of love - Barbara believes she has escaped the disease. She has got all the advantages: you sometimes see heavily married people look at single people with a glimmer of envy. It also has its negative sides: you're incredibly lonely. I also wanted to look at the way you can suddenly no longer be honourable. Barbara honestly believes that you don't bugger up your best friend's life. The scene where they tell Nikki is the nearest thing to Hansel and Gretel, with the parents saying, `We're going to take you into the woods and dump you.'"
(The Independent, 28 February 1998)

"It is a very sharp little play. It's about a man and a woman who punch each other senseless. It's not a
Private Lives fight, it's an l-will-kill-you-if-l-manage-to-land-the-right-blow fight. He punches her in the face. It's about how we do things to people we love that we'd never dream of doing to strangers. It's driven out of comedy, but when we did it, people were very shocked....
"Most people are lured into theatres by promises of entertainment. But they don't actually thank you if in the end all you give them is entertainment, a meal with absolutely no substance. You've got to bring an audience into the theatre, but at the same time, you and your colleagues do not want to be soiling your hands doing light-headed crap. You've got to balance content with appeal. If you do want to write a brutal play about rape, there's got to be elements about it that people want to come and see. That's a fascinating challenge....
"It would be pointless for me to reinvent myself as a working-class lad from Barnsley. There is more source of comedy from people who lay their tables with 68 knives and forks and try to make it all right with folded napkins, than there is from people eating beef-burgers out of the fridge. The violence and conflict in the middle-classes is equally bad. There are more wife beaters who are middle-class than working-class, I would suspect. That's much more sinister, because it's not mentioned so much. For me, it's a more interesting area to mine, because I've lived in it."
(The Herald, 22 June 1999)

Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn

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