Just Between Ourselves: Behind The Scenes

Behind The Scenes offers a glimpse at some rarely known facts regarding the writing of Alan Ayckbourn's plays with material drawn from the Ayckbourn Archive at the University Of York and the playwright's personal archive.
  • Notes and correspondence contained in the Ayckbourn Archive at the University Of York indicate Just Between Ourselves was conceived as being even darker than the play which was eventually written; itself now considered one of the bleakest of all Ayckbourn plays. In the earliest existing handwritten notes for the play, the emphasis is more firmly set on Dennis, who is himself undergoing a meltdown and his actions are largely determined by depression and mood-swings. Further notes also suggest the character of Neil was equally as damaged, being a hypochondriac who attempts suicide during the play; this may have been dropped due to similarities with Alan's play Absurd Person Singular where Eva's attempts at suicide dominate the second act. As it is, only Dennis's cheerful disposition was retained from conception to finish, his depressive elements were dropped placing the emphasis far more firmly on Vera's distressed state of mind. The hand-written notes below show early ideas for the play - the top one being almost unrecognisable as Just Between Ourselves, although the idea of a play told over 'x' years will be used two years later in Joking Apart. The second note introduces more familiar names and ideas, but suggests a more comedic intent ('going round the T.' is shorthand for 'going round the twist' i.e. going mad.).

JBO_concept_01

JBO_concept_02

  • In an interview with the Middlesbrough Evening Gazette in May 1976, Alan Ayckbourn says he wrote the play in just two days and went straight into rehearsals: "I started Just Between Ourselves on the Thursday, finished it on the Friday, had it typed up on the Saturday, duplicated on the Sunday and into rehearsals on the Monday."

Copyright: Simon Murgatroyd. The notes are copyright of Alan Ayckbourn and held in the Borthwick Institute at the University Of York and should not be reproduced without the permission of the copyright holder.