Standing Room Only (1961)
Standing Room Only was the final play Alan Ayckbourn wrote under his pseudonym Roland Allen (and, bizarrely, is also regarded as the first he wrote as Alan Ayckbourn due to the author's credit on a revival of the play) and is the first of his future-set plays.
|Copyright: Daily Telegraph|
Standing Room Only opened at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, in 1961 and was quickly optioned by the producer Peter Bridge, who was making a name for himself as a risk-taking producer in London.
The story has always gone that Bridge optioned the play after he saw a glowing review of the play in The Stage newspaper whose headline questioned "Is there a manager to drive this bus to Shaftesbury Avenue?"
Ironically, this was not quite the objective review one might expect of The Stage as it was written and submitted by the production's stage manager Joan Macalpine!
The play was never produced in the West End though, despite numerous re-writes and plans by Peter Bridge for a host of star names to appear in it. It was similarly optioned for television by ITV's Armchair Theatre, but this was also never produced.
The article is notable as it marked the first news story about Alan Ayckbourn in a major newspaper and, theoretically, marked the beginning of his relationship with the West End - even if this particular production came to nothing.
Standing Room Only opened at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, on 13 July 1961 and was directed by Stephen Joseph. More details about the play can be found here.