Farcicals: History

The Farcicals are two one act plays by Alan Ayckbourn premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, during its 2013 summer season.

Commissioned by the Stephen Joseph Theatre - having been suggested but never taken any further several years earlier - the
Farcicals are two plays which are loosely connected and share the same four characters. However, neither of the plays - Chloë With Love and The Kidderminster Affair - are dependent upon seeing the other to be appreciated.

The plays were commissioned as a direct result of Alan's repertory company at the Stephen Joseph Theatre during 2013. He had agreed to revive his 1992 play
Time Of My Life but was unhappy with the prospect of writing a new play for a company of such limited size - his experience the previous year when his original plans for Surprises were greatly reduced possibly contributing to this. As a result, he wrote an 11 hander play - Arrivals & Departures - and the theatre suggested, as a result of having four 'spare' actors only in one of the two main house shows, if Alan would write two four-hander one-act plays for the venue's lunchtime slot. Alan agreed, but on the proviso the plays were staged in the theatre's restaurant at lunchtimes; subsequent to his stepping down as Artistic Director of the venue in 2009, Alan's practise of having the lunchtime shows performed in the restaurant had been dropped by his successor Chris Monks much to Alan's disappointment.

The plays marked the first time Alan had specifically written one act plays purely for their own sakes. His previous one act plays had been commissioned as part of a wider project;
Countdown was written for the multi-author piece Mixed Doubles and A Cut In The Rates was written specifically for a BBC educational series demonstrating the process behind bring a play from page to stage. Both of these plays were also short one act plays, whereas the Farcicals have a more substantial 45 minute running time.

Considering that Alan Ayckbourn also feels he has only written one full-length farce with
Taking Steps, these two one act plays make a rare step into a genre the playwright is most frequently (and, arguably, incorrectly) associated with.

Both plays premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre on 4 September 2013 with the opportunity to see them either singularly at lunchtimes or together on evenings. The company for the
Farcicals being drawn from the company for Alan Ayckbourn's new play for 2013, Arrivals & Departures. The plays would go on to tour with Arrivals & Departures and Time Of My Life in 2014 under the title of the Ayckbourn Ensemble; the three plays also toured to the Brits Off Broadway festival at the 59E59 Theaters, New York, during June 2014 where they received excellent reviews and sold out its entire run.

Farcicals was published by Samuel French as an acting edition in 2019 and can either be performed as individual one act plays - Chloë With Love and The Kidderminster Affair - or together as a short play, under the title Farcicals.

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