If you have a question regarding any aspect of Alan's work, email it to: email@example.com (labelled Ask The Archivist) and we'll publish any interesting questions.
Question: The Evening Standard's recent review of Neighbourhood Watch implied there was uncertainty regarding how many plays Alan Ayckbourn has written. Is this the case?
Answer: No, there's absolutely no uncertainty. Neighbourhood Watch is undoubtedly Alan Ayckbourn's 75th play - and has always been advertised as such - with his soon to be premiered Surprises being, unsurprisingly, his 76th play.
|The Neighbourhood Watch world|
premiere programme with the 75th
play embossed on the cover.
In fact when Neighbourhood Watch was premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre last year, the programme cover made it very clear just which play number it was as it celebrated both Alan's 75th full-length play and the 300th new play commissioned at the SJT since it opened in 1955.
There was actually a point in history when there was confusion about how many plays Alan had written, but that was in the period between the mid '70s and mid '80s. At the time, Alan Ayckbourn and Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Jeeves was not considered one of his full length plays (whether this was because it was a musical or because he was trying to forget the infamous flop musical is not known). As a result reviews and articles from this period tend to incorrectly refer to how many plays he's written. This is most significant with Season's Greetings, which was promoted as his 25th play but which we now consider to be his 26th. This was corrected by the the late '80s.
There was also a brief period in 1999, when it debated whether House & Garden was one or two plays (it's two plays), but other than that, there's been very little doubt about how many plays Alan has written and had produced.
You can see a definite list of Alan Ayckbourn's full length plays (and all his other writing) at his website in the Plays section.
To submit your question to Ask The Archivist, email Simon Murgatroyd at: firstname.lastname@example.org labelled Ask The Archivist.