Life & Beth: Frequently Asked Questions

Alan Ayckbourn's Archivist Simon Murgatroyd's answers some of the most frequently asked questions about Alan Ayckbourn's Life & Beth. If you have a question about this or any other of Alan Ayckbourn's plays, you can contact the website via the Contact Us page.

Is Life & Beth part of a trilogy of plays alongside Haunting Julia and Snake In The Grass and, if so, is this trilogy called Things That Go Bump?
No. Life & Beth is not part of a trilogy of supernatural plays and there is no such thing as the Things That Go Bump trilogy.
To elaborate, Alan Ayckbourn has not written a trilogy called
Things That Go Bump, nor has he ever referred to these plays as a trilogy nor used the title Things That Go Bump for the plays himself.
The confusion stems from the fact that when the three plays were produced together at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in 2008, they were promoted under the season title of
Things That Go Bump. This was a marketing campaign created specifically for this season and the title has never since been used officially in association with the three plays. However, certain media reports and websites - most notably Wikipedia - inaccurately referred to the plays as the Things That Go Bump trilogy leading to the - incorrect - suggestion that these three plays formed a trilogy such as The Norman Conquests or Damsels In Distress.
While the three plays share similar themes (the supernatural, parents' relationship to their children) and
Life & Beth was written initially with the cast requirements of Haunting Julia and Snake In The Grass in mind, these three plays are not considered to be an actual trilogy. Rather they are three thematically connected plays which can be performed with the same company.
Any website or article which refers to
Haunting Julia, Snake In The Grass and Life & Beth as the Things That Go Bump trilogy or just a trilogy is inaccurate.

Is Gordon a ghost or a figment of Bet's imagination?
Much of this depends on your interpretation of the play as, arguably, the play can be interpreted either way. Beth could be exorcising both real or imagined ghosts. Essentially, the play is about a widow coming to terms with the fact she is able to cope and live her life to the full after her husband's death; so whether it's real or all in her mind, the outcome is the same. Beth moves forward in her life having realised she is fully capable of a fulfilling life without Gordon.
From this author's perspective though, given that the ghost of Flagstaff the cat is real - he has a physical effect on the surroundings - I'd be inclined to say that Gordon is actually a ghost which visits Beth before, essentially, being exorcised.

All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd.