Life & Beth: Quotes by Alan Ayckbourn"Somebody suggested - knowing my love of threes - that I do them [Haunting Julia and Snake In The Grass] together and then write a third ghost play for three men and three women. But I haven't done it yet. It may happen one day. I have a sort of urge to see if I can do it, but I don't have a ghost play in me at the moment, or a haunting play."
(Interview with Alan-Reiner Glaap in 2002, five years before he wrote Life & Beth)
"I thought just after I'd had the stroke that at least I can write, even if I had to dictate. But funnily enough, the directing side is returning far quicker. Writing, I suddenly realised, is an enormous strain on the resources. I thought, don't plan to write the new play in a week, which I used to, leave it a month. I think after a month I'm going to go barmy with it. All those people running around in my head. The reason I wrote them so quickly was to got shot of the characters."
(The Stage, 22 March 2007)
"[Regarding the aftermath of his stroke in 2006] For a long time I felt like someone standing on the edge of a swimming pool daring to jump in. I wasn't sure if the part of the brain that writes the stories would work."
(Yorkshire Post, 11 January 2008)
"Personally, I think other than making people laugh the greatest reward in theatre is to make people jump, which is just as challenging. Ghost stories and comedies have this much in common; both rely on suspension of disbelief and also on an element of narrative surprise.
"Life & Beth came about, as my plays come about via a series of ideas and particular circumstances. First there were the two existing, so called 'ghost' plays, Haunting Julia and Snake in the Grass which I really wanted to revisit at present as a pairing. And then, allowing for my predilection for doing things in threes, I wanted to write a third rather lighter piece, my own equivalent Blithe Spirit if you like. It is also, of course, a six hander utilising both casts from the other two."
(New Vic summer 2008 brochure)
"I like to think of it as my own particular Blithe Spirit. It still pursues the same theme as the previous two plays [Haunting Julia and Snake In The Grass], discussing how parents affect their children."
(Alan Ayckbourn during rehearsals for Life And Beth).
"We had three men, three women, and with my tidy mind I thought, “let's have something that combines the theme and the cast,” and I wanted to write something that would complement the other two, but was lighter too.
"It's still wistful. If you write about death and loneliness and widowhood, you do get a sad strain. Like the other two plays, this one is again about closure and about parents and their children.
"In Life & Beth, Beth and Gordon seemed to have had the perfect marriage, and for Beth, her husband's death was a natural closure, but where everyone else thinks there should be more grief from her, she sees it as an end of a chapter. She wants closure.
"When someone dies, they've gone on to something better or worse, and you think, "for goodness sake, get on with your own life". Women often outlive their husbands and go on to have a second life, where they go round the world or go berserk and marry again. It's the ones who fade away that you feel sorry for, the ones you wish could close the book and carry on like Beth does."
(The Press, 18 July 2008)
"When you get older, you go to a few funerals. You don't know what to say to the woman - and it's usually a woman. You start this awful business, 'He was a terrific bloke', and they look at you as if saying, 'Yes, yes, get it over with'. My new play is about a woman who is just coming to terms with the death of her husband, and all her family are doing the crying on her behalf....
“It's all about taking the famous Philip Larkin text, 'They f*** you up, your mum and dad' - the disastrous effect parents have on their children and sometimes the other way round. I describe it as my Blithe Spirit. It's still quite sad. You can't write a play about a recently widowed woman at Christmas without it getting sad."
(The Times, 21 July 2008)
"It was originally called Life After Beth: We didn’t have a Beth in it then."
(Tea For Two with Alan Ayckbourn and Richard Derrington, Stephen Joseph Theatre, 23 July 2008)
Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn