Time Of My Life: Quotes by Alan Ayckbourn


"Restaurants are great places for things you don't intend to say. Mostly people intend to have discussions about their personal lives at home, but I have seen more human dramas unfold in restaurants than anywhere else. Just the other day I watched a couple arrive at a restaurant looking happy. Then things started to look grim and suddenly he was gone. She was just left sitting there, with her plate, crying. It was as though I had seen a whole relationship disintegrate....
"As a race I suspect we are quite often unable to be happy. We look forward to moments of happiness, which are often an anticlimax. We look back to times when we should have been happy, but were probably worrying about something else. I suspect we spend a lot of time looking for happiness....
"In a lot of my writing, people are watching things which have happened to them, happened to other people. A lot of the time they are laughing with relief at the recognition of themselves. And often with my plays they are able to say: 'Well at least we're not as bad as that.'"
(Daily Telegraph, 10 April 1992)

"It is a three-way journey through time. All of them are in search of personal happiness, but as is so often the case, hard-pressed to recognise it when they find it."
(Scarborough Evening News, 14 April 1992)

"A man and his wife, or girlfriend, were talking in very low tones which suggested they were having some sort of guerrilla-like argument. He was getting very angry. Then he suddenly leaned right across the table and lowered his voice even further, but just as he spoke the music playing finished and there was a lull in the restaurant. I heard him say: 'Shall I hit you now, or wait until we get home?' It was the most terrifying line I had ever heard."
(Scarborough Evening News, 14 April 1992)

"I have this theory that we spend most of our lives looking forward to things or looking back. Essentially, it's a family play about our perception of moments. The play explores the family's lives, past, present and future. All of them are in search of personal happiness but, as is so often the case, they're hard pressed to recognise it even when they find it. Each journey reflects the other journey, so that you learn more about each person."
(Yorkshire Evening Press, 17 April 1992)

"It's true that not much of my stuff finishes on an up curve. On the other hand, I hope it doesn't finish dismally desolately - maybe one or two of them do. I once said that a comedy is just a tragedy stopped at a certain point and I think that's true."
(Daily Telegraph, 1 December 1992)

"I'm now running so-called comedy and so-called tragedy side-by-side, like two electric wires generating emotional sparks between them. There's a scene in my last play [
Time of My Life] in which a man leaves his wife in a restaurant to go off with his mistress. After he's gone, the waiter comes with the sweet trolley - it's horrendous, but it's so bizarre that the audience half laughs - and because the wife's slowly rocking with grief, the waiter assumes she's saying yes to every suggestion, and he piles up the tarts and the pastries...."
(Oxford Today, volume 5, number 1)

"I think the comedy adds to the tragedy and the tragedy adds to the comedy - the awful things that happen to us in the most critical moments of our existence....
"It's a time play. For one couple time stands still, they examine their lives over the two or three hours the play takes. Another couple you see their lives over a period of two months, and for the third couple over a period of two years. So the time moves at different speeds and different directions. The two-month couple are actually going backwards in time. This tends to give a curious reflecting mirror."
(International Herald Tribune, 20 July 1993)

"The table next to me is an invaluable source of insights into character. Women often seem to use restaurants to talk things over. They know that there's nothing much for men to hide behind except the menu when they ask the inevitable `What is going to happen to us?'...
"Time tends to move in various directions during the play and at various speeds. So, for instance, you have the events of two days happening at once."
(Evening Standard, 27 July 1993)

"The play lost enormously from going into the proscenium [proscenium stage]. The idea was that you, the audience, were close enough to be sitting in the same restaurant as these people. You were almost eavesdropping on the tables. Which was great. Put it in a proscenium and you've suddenly got these strange sightline problems, and tables, and people behind them. It was a mistake to do it. Really a mistake."
(The Independent, 11 June 1995)

"I wanted to revive Time Of My Life, which has always been one of my favourites and is one of my very few northern plays. I took 40 years to pluck up courage to write a northern play. All of my plays had been doggedly southern, apart from A Chorus of Disapproval in 1984…. I can’t say hand on heart that there’s a difference between northern people and southern people. Instead, you’re looking for class divisions, which could be transported just as easily to Guildford. It’s a play about what Philip Larkin wrote about what you mum and dad do to you, with my usual observations on marriage."
(The Press, 9 June 2013)

When eating out, why is it that the next table's conversation is often so much more fascinating and intriguing. It is Laura Stratton's fifty-fourth birthday. She is out for the evening to celebrate at her favourite local restaurant. The other guests include her businessman husband, Gerry, her two sons Glyn and Adam, Glyn's wife Stephanie and Adam's new girlfriend, Maureen. Three couples celebrating a happy family outing. Yet is it all as harmonious as it appears? What secrets lie buried in the past? What hidden tensions lurk beneath the present surface? What awaits them all in the future? What do the waiters make of it all? Alan Ayckbourn's new comedy,
Time of my Life, explores the family's lives, past, present and future in a three way journey through time. All of them in search of personal happiness but, as is so often the case, hard pressed to recognise it even when they find it.
(Brochure copy from the original 1992 production)

Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn