It Could Be Any One Of Us: Quotes by Alan Ayckbourn

"There is a part in the play [The Story So Far...] where, at one stage, it was thought that the mother and father were trying to kill each other, It was intriguing, I thought to myself, 'I must go back to that one of these days.'"
(Scarborough Evening News, 27 September 1983)

"After drawing cards, the cast would only know if they were not to be the murderer that night, but they wouldn't know who was. You see, it must be possible for them all to have done it. So often in detective stories it's only afterwards that you learn about the aunt in India. It's easy enough to give them all motives, but if you're going to play fair with audiences they must all have the opportunity and the character to do it too. So you must work out how and why each one could have done it, and that's really a different play for each, so I just wrote them all."
(The Irish Times, 22 January 1985)

"I think that Norris during his final Poirot-like summing up is intended to make very little sense. He’s grasping at any straw to build a haystack thesis - none of which adds up."
(Personal correspondence, 2005)

"I tried it again [writing a thriller after abandoning his first attempt -
Sight Unseen - in 1980]. I had to get it out of my system. Having said that there was a lot of stuff that was salvageable from it: there was a lot of fun and people did quite enjoy it. Norris was a good fun character, a sort of English Clouseau, and his summing up at the end with a completely wrong set of facts was tremendous fun. And it did have moments in it which interested me. There's a scene where two of them are in the house alone and there's thunder and lightning around and a large (doll's) head comes down the stairs. The whole audience used to leap several feet and I always felt it would be fun to do something really horrific - fun horrific, not where you go home frightened of the dark. Like a good horror film, where you know you're being frightened but love being frightened despite it. One day I might use the experience of that play to do something that makes people jump."
(Interview from Conversations With Ayckbourn by Ian Watson)

"Comedy thrillers are nearly as difficult to write as farces! The problem I had with writing this was that, to construct a successful whodunit, you have to fill your stage with characters who could possibly have done it. Now, I’m quite prepared to believe that a household could have one member capable of murder - but five or six…? In the end, I didn’t have the heart to bump anyone off. I’ve rarely laughed so much in rehearsal, though. John Arthur’s inept detective was a joy to watch."
(‘Ayckbourn At 50’ souvenir programme)

"An old dark house, a stormy night, a corpse, a number of suspects, a killer on the loose and a private sleuth hot on the trail. All the traditional ingredients for a good, old-fashioned edge-of-your-seat whodunit.
Unfortunately, the sleuth in question is the disastrous Norris Honeywell who has trouble even identifying the potential victim let alone the suspects. As far as he's concerned, it could be any one of them, really... To be fair to Norris, though, the guilty party does tend to vary from night to night."
(Alan Ayckbourn’s publicity copy for the Stephen Joseph Theatre brochure, summer 1996)

Copyright: Haydonning Ltd.