A Trip To Scarborough: Quotes by Alan Ayckbourn

"It needed to be done, just because of the title really, and I kept picking it up [R.B. Sheridan’s play A Trip To Scarborough]. It's actually a reworking of The Relapse by Vanbrugh, but he took all the balls out of it. It is a cosmeticized and rather inferior version, and if you're going to spend money doing Sheridan's A Trip to Scarborough, you might as well spend it doing The Relapse. The Sheridan has no quality and isn't much fun. It did occur to me to do it as a musical, but I wasn't at that time really interested in adapting that sort of thing. And then it occurred to me that the story itself was quite interesting, and I had the idea of splitting it into three, so that I took a third of the play, cut a lot of the sub-plots and then ran two other plots parallel with it…. One set in the early 1940s, in wartime, and one set today. What it really set out to do was to explore the decline of the hero, from Tom Fashion - the buck who rushed around seducing the ladies, begad - to the very disillusioned forties fighter-pilot hero, who is in fact a nervous wreck, to the very sleazy modern businessman with the rubber goods in his suitcase - up on the town, away from the little woman, looking for a bit of sport in Scarborough. It's also the story of how London folk come up to Scarborough to take advantage of the yokels, and how the yokels have the last laugh on them. The London antique dealer comes up to buy a manuscript of Sheridan's original Trip to Scarborough, and buys it for a fantastically deflated price, and then finds he's been swindled anyway, because it doesn't belong to the person who sold it to him. It finished up with a sort of Royal Shakespeare like dance, and they danced through the three periods, starting with a stately minuet and finishing with a rock 'n' roll number. It went rather well."
(Extract from Conversations With Ayckbourn by Ian Watson)

"There was a play called
A Trip To Scarborough and everybody said. "Hey, you know A Trip To Scarborough - you are in Scarborough, and I read it and found it was rather an inferior re-write of The Relapse, in fact it is not (with respect to the distinguished author - and he would probably agree) much of a play. It is actually a second class version of a much better play, and if you were going to spend out the money on the costumes you might as well do the re-write in the first place. But I still thought. "Well, A Trip To Scarborough does have good stuff that could be saleable': I didn't want to do the whole play. It then occurred to me that since Sheridan already monkeyed around with it, that it would be quite OK to monkey around with it some more. So, I used the sort of skeletal outline of A Trip To Scarborough taking out the bits I thought were quite funny and using it as a background for two other parallel stories, one of which is 1940 and one of which is 1980s, in an attempt to sort of set up echoes between the three periods. It is a curiosity. It is not done very much, partly because it was never done in the West End, and as a result the market place was never open for it.
"I thoroughly enjoyed doing it... it is great fun I hope for the actors to jump from period to period and is an exercise in acting style. It is also a tremendous feat of concentration for an audience actually holding all these different story lines. But it is not desperately serious. It was written for Christmas. It was not intended to gloom people. There are no women having nervous breakdowns. But there are a few fighter pilots shot up in flames."
(Interview, 1987)

"I’d been meaning to do the Sheridan play for some time - mainly because of the title. When I came to read it though it seemed a pale rewrite of Vanbrugh’s much bawdier, far more enjoyable
The Relapse. So I wrote a sort of triple-decker play using bits of the original Sheridan, another strand set in the 1940’s wartime period and a third contemporary setting. The three plots intertwined a lot and there was a great deal of quick-changing and - I think as a reaction against Intimate Exchanges - required a big cast, three musicians and was set in the foyer of Scarborough’s Royal Hotel."
(‘Ayckbourn At 50’ souvenir programme)

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