Relatively Speaking: Quotes by Other People

This page includes quotes about the play Relatively Speaking by people other than Alan Ayckbourn, predominantly drawn from books and articles about Alan Ayckbourn or British theatre; it does not include quotes from reviews, which can be found in the Reviews pages.

"The romantic, shy, garrulous, incoherent Greg is something of a self-portrait, and the fact that he and Ginny are cohabiting without having to be explained away as bohemians or rebels is evidence to the social changes taking place in the 'permissive' 1960s: Greg's presumption that what he believes to be his girlfriend's mother would disapprove of this reflects the widespread generational difference of view of this period."
Paul Allen: A Pocket Guide to Alan Ayckbourn’s Plays, 2004, Faber)

"Relatively Speaking illustrates two principal ways that Ayckbourn both uses and modifies the methods of farce. The playwriting virtuosity - the cleverness of the contrivances and the brilliance with which characters and situation are juggled - always points up the themes of the play. Ayckbourn's characters, although never merely stereotypes, still follow in the tradition of farce and rarely exceed the limitations farce places on character portrayal."
(Stuart E Baker, Ayckbourn And The Tradition Of Farce, 1991)

"What was it that made this seemingly lightweight play so durably popular? With hindsight, one can see that the play anticipates Ayckbourn's later pre-occupation with gruesomely uncomprehending husbands and neglected wives, with quietly rotting marriages and adulterous sex. But the basic truth is that the play is a stunning piece of comic craftsmanship which takes a single misunderstanding - a man who airily mistakes his girlfriend's lover and the lover's wife for her parents - and keeps it unbelievably afloat for two hours."
(Michael Billington: Alan Ayckbourn,1990, Palgrave)

"[Relatively Speaking] is an elegant construct, a delightful Fabergé egg of a play; yet it also suggests that the distinctive sound of a middle-class English Sunday morning is that of a marriage falling quietly apart. The play may have been written to give Scarborough holidaymakers somewhere to go in the dry; but it also proved Ayckbourn could wrote a well-made play based on observable truth."
(Michael Billington: Alan Ayckbourn,1990, Palgrave)

"It’s [Relatively Speaking] a hysterically funny play. But it’s a painful part to play as Sheila is not making her own choices. She is not able to."
(Felicity Kendal - actor, The Times, 13 April 2013)

"The majority of the play is a hilarious journey through the pitfalls of misunderstandings when innocence meets guilt within the context of marriage and courtship. It is a structure that Ayckbourn was to exploit in many guises throughout his work."
(Michael Holt: Alan Ayckbourn, 1999, Northcote Press)

"Ayckbourn mixes the comic ingredients into what has been called a "superbly constructed meringue of a play" by choosing as his model what may be the most perfect of all well-made comedies, Oscar Wilde's The Importance Of Being Earnest…. What characterises both plays are the standard ingredients of the well-made play: secrets known to some but withheld from others, quid-pro-quo conversations in which two speakers, actually at odds, believe they are discussing the same person, and, of course, assumed identities. As in all well-made plays, both Earnest and Relatively Speaking are neatly and reasonably resolved; in both the denouement involves a prop brought onstage at a climatic moment."
(Albert E. Kalson: Laughter In The Dark, 1991, Associated Universities Press)

"His [Ayckbourn's] first big success was Relatively Speaking, which established him as a writer of ingenious farcical comedy, with an ear for dialogue and with a penchant for complex situations and misunderstandings, and ingenious plots."
(Oleg Kerensky: The New British Drama, 1977, Hamish Hamilton)

"Its [Relatively Speaking] mixture of misunderstandings, suggested infidelity, gentle suburban satire and technical brilliance created a template that would remain enormously popular for the next three decades."
(Dominic Shellard: British Theatre Since The War, 1999, Yale University Press)

"The audience is left in no doubt that this unmarried couple have spent the night together and to judge from Greg’s remark that one or other of them generally manages to fall out of the single bed, he’s been a regular visitor between Ginny’s sheets since their meeting a month earlier. Beneath the bedclothes, Greg is naked and when Ginny attests to his talents in the bedroom, not even the most sheltered member of the audience could escape the obvious fact that Ginny and Greg have been making love on a regular basis. This was surely a pioneering step from Ayckbourn. Arguably, this is the first time that the sex lives of an unmarried young couple were openly depicted on the West End stage."
(Al Senter, Frankly Speaking, John Good Publishing)

All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd.