Confusions: Behind The Scenes

Behind The Scenes offers a glimpse at some rarely known facts regarding the writing of Alan Ayckbourn's plays with material drawn from the Ayckbourn Archive at the University Of York and the playwright's personal archive.
  • Surviving hand-written notes held in the Ayckbourn Archive at the University of York indicate Alan Ayckbourn originally intended Confusions would consist of six one act plays including Mother Figure and all loosely themed to marriage from wedding to parenthood to break-up (see note below). There is no evidence to suggest that anything connected the plays other than the broad over-arching theme of marriage. Alan would later change the structure to five loosely connected one act plays, which do not appear to bear any resemblance to his initial idea.


  • Whilst Mother Figure was originally written for a revue entitled Mixed Blessings, the other four Confusions pieces, Drinking Companion, Between Mouthfuls, Gosforth’s Fête and A Talk In The Park were all original. Alan Ayckbourn has said in interviews though that the inspiration for Between Mouthfuls can be found in his only produced television screenplay Service Not Included. This was written for the BBC2 series Masquerade and shown only once on television. The idea of the piece was kept - a waiter moving in and out of overheard conversations - but the action substantially scaled down.
  • Whilst Alan Ayckbourn has never specifically discussed the origin of Gosforth's Fête, an interview in the April 1975 edition of Vogue suggests the inspiration may have been close to home and his attendance at Scarborough civic events: "I love things when they're set up and go wrong; there’s something very funny about human dignity. Civic occasions are wonderful in small towns, too, because they don't quite have the Lord Chancellor to organise them. So vases of flowers fall over. Every summer in Scarborough I always go to the Mayor’s tent. It always rains, and the Mayor and Mayoress sit there and nobody turns up. There’s a great pile of sandwiches, the band’s playing, the cricketers are cursing, and everything’s a washout."
Copyright: Simon Murgatroyd. The sketch is copyright of Alan Ayckbourn and held in the Borthwick Institute at the University Of York and should not be reproduced without the permission of the copyright holder.