It Could Be Any One Of Us: Interview with Alan Ayckbourn

In an interview with Alan Ayckbourn's for the revival of It Could Be Any One Of Us at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in 1996, Alan Ayckbourn's Archivist Simon Murgatroyd explores the inspirations behind the play and the reasons for revising it.

Simon Murgatroyd: Although the original production of It Could Be Any One Of Us was a success in the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, it has never achieved the popularity of the majority of your other plays. Why choose to revive it now?
Alan Ayckbourn:
These first few months at the theatre [the interview took place five months after the company moved to the Stephen Joseph Theatre] have largely been a matter of me visiting old grounds. As with Jeeves, It Could Be Any One Of Us has been completely revised. Whereas Jeeves definitely didn't work originally, as we all know, this worked reasonably well, but we were never 100% happy with it.

What inspired you to write the play?
I'd always wanted to advance into the comedy-thriller world, but it wasn't completely successful. Later, I did have success with Communicating Doors, but that was driven more by tension and excitement. It Could Be Any One Of Us is much more in the tradition of the old, dark house thriller which I've always loved, such as Bob Hope's The Cat And The Canary. One of the other reasons I did it was I playing with different endings such as Sisterly Feelings and Intimate Exchanges. In this one though, no-one actually knows who did it - not even the stage-manager! The murderer is completely random and chosen by the drawing of a certain card during a game in the first scene. That character assumes the role of the murderer for that evening and the text is subtly altered by the murderer, who imparts bits of dialogue which will give the audience the chance to spot the guilty party.

Did this pose you any problems during the writing?
As a writer, the only major problem I had was in justifying why there was a complete household of homicidal maniacs! I'm prepared to admit there may be one, but that an entire family is capable of killing struck me as strange.

Do you think it improves on the original version?
I think it will be a bit of fun, it's fairly comic and by no means deadly serious.

Article by Simon Murgatroyd. Copyright: Haydonning Ltd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.