By Michael Billington (auth.)
This booklet reviews the performs by means of Alan Ayckbourn and features a biography, a survey of the performs and precise research of the main major performs, in addition to dialogue, the place appropriate, in their political, social, ancient and theatrical context.
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Philip is discussing their marriage directly: Sheila quite indirectly. But both are disclosing obliquely their real feelings about each other. Ayckbourn, on the whole an observer of human frailty rather than a conscious moralist, comes close to judging Philip as a selfish, philandering prig. Ayckbourn is not, as his later work proves, puritanically hostile to adultery, merely to the egoistic exploitation of one human being by another. Ayckbourn himself says of this play that 'character plays a fairly secondary role in it'.
Philip, still playing the role of Ginny's father, finds himself having to defend the behaviour of the married man (himself). Sheila, cast unwillingly in the role of mother, finds herself attacking it: Poor girl. Did you hear that, Philip? Poor girl. Yes. I was just going to say that there were probably two sides. SHEILA: Nothing but selfishness on his, I should think. PHILIP: I don't know. SHEILA: I do. PHILIP: How do you mean? SHEILA: It's obvious. I mean, what could he offer her? PHILIP: It depends on what sort of man he was.
Frank Foster has everyone round to his house for a Sunday-morning air-clearing session and sorts out the various issues he himself has complicated. William is forced to utter an inarticulate apology to his innocent wife ('It's difficult for him', says Mary. 'He's never been wrong before, you see'). Bob and Teresa, who have made their peace in bed, are publicly reconciled. And 38 The Plots Thicken Fiona finally confesses to Frank that she has had a casual fling: something that can apparently be put right with dinner and a bottle of wine.