Alan Ayckbourn: Unproduced Plays

Given the longevity of Alan Ayckbourn's professional writing career, it would be surprising if there had not been some unproduced plays. This page contains details of completed plays which are currently unproduced.

This page also serves to acknowledge the existence and providence of the plays prior to inclusion into the Ayckbourn Archive at the
Borthwick Institute for Archives at the University of York; this allows the playwright to assert there are no lost or undiscovered works within the Archive.

A Case Of Missing Wives

A Case of Missing Wives was finished on 16 October 2016 and was scheduled to premiere at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, during 2017. However, Alan wrote A Brief History of Women shortly afterwards and offered both plays to the SJT with the Artistic Director Paul Robinson choosing A Brief History of Women.

The play is a six-hander police procedural set in the fictional town of Dreadcliff and the experiences of a young female Detective Constable transferring from Sussex to this strange town in Yorkshire. Alan would later recycle some of the ideas and characters into his 82nd play
Better Off Dead, which makes it unlikely A Case Of Missing Wives will ever be produced.

"I went to Bowness-on-Winderemere to dwell on
A Case Of Missing Wives and decided I was less than 100% happy with it. As a result, I came back and wrote another one - A Brief History of Women - and then subsequently revised A Case Of Missing Wives to make myself happier with it! I then had two plays and I offered them both to Paul Robinson [Artistic Director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre] and I said, take your pick. He chose - as it happens - A Brief History of Women. They’re both totally different. I’ve seldom written two plays so close together and really you’d never know it as they’re totally different. But I had A Case Of Missing Women in my head for a very long time. It takes the form of a police procedural really but - having said that - it’s stuffed with my usual themes: how much do men understand women and women understand men? So in that sense, it’s sexes as usual.
"It’s quite fun, I think the only thing I lifted from it for
A Brief History Of Women was a very stern silent central character - which i think is the only link between the two plays. In A Case Of Missing Wives, it happens to be a young girl, a detective constable who’s transferred from Sussex to to Yorkshire and finds the cultural shock of Yorkshire male detectives slightly shocking; I mean southern male detectives are pretty rough stuff, but up here my mythical town of Dreadcliff, it's full of very dinosaur like men, who think that the girls are just there to make the tea. The chief super who welcomes her is a woman, herself from the south, and she says "It's my duty to welcome you to Dreadcliff and I'm sure you’ll have s successful time but, as a woman, God help you."
Alan Ayckbourn (Interview with Simon Murgatroyd, March 2017)

Men, Meals & Me

Men, Meals & Me was written during 2018 with the intention of being produced during the 2019 summer season at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough.

However, scheduling issues and the size of the company for the proposed productions for the 2019 summer season led Alan to write the four-hander
Birthdays Past, Birthdays Present in its place. This was produced in repertory with a revival of Season's Greetings.

Men, Meals & Me is an eight-hander and borrows the central conceit of the 1981 revue, Me, Myself and I in which the central character is represented by three actors playing different aspects of Jenny Portal-Walker.

As of 2020, Alan Ayckbourn hopes
Men, Meals & Me will be produced in the future.

Small Mercy

Small Mercy was written during February 2019 with the initial intention of being produced during the 2020 summer season at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough.

The play is a seven-hander set in 2021 (or thereabouts) and explores online media and how it can be manipulated and exploited. The play unusually underwent several revisions which saw the role of the central character of Mercy eventually become a character seen only on video.

Later in 2019, Alan Ayckbourn went on to write
Truth Will Out and - with a choice of plays - the SJT went with Truth Will Out for the, eventually cancelled, 2020 summer season.

Between 2020 and 2023, Alan Ayckbourn re-wrote
Small Mercy and re-titled it as Father of Invention. It substantially alters the narrative whilst keeping many of the characters.

Another Time, Another Place

Another Time, Another Place was the second play Alan Ayckbourn wrote as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic during 2020. As a result of the global outbreak, all the UK's theatre's were closed during March 2020. Alan still proiducved a new play with the audio play, Anno Domino. The success of Anno Domino led Alan to record his 1994 play Haunting Julia through June to August.

As soon as Alan had finished working on
Haunting Julia, he began writing Another Time, Another Place during September, which was completed on 22 September. No details are currently known about the play.

It is not known what the status of
Another Time, Another Place is and whether the playwright intends to allow it to be produced.

Other Plays

No details are currently known about the other finished but unproduced plays: FourPlay and The Late Wife. They were both written in 2021 during the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Article and research by Simon Murgatroyd. Copyright: Haydonning Ltd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.