A Small Family Business: Articles

This section features articles about the play A Small Family Business by Alan Ayckbourn and other authors. Click on the relevant link in the right-hand column below to access the relevant article.

In the Ayckbourn Archive at the Borthwick Institute For Archives at the University of York, there is a fascinating correspondence in which Alan Ayckbourn is accused of selling A Small Family Business as a comedy (he didn't and neither did the National Theatre) and that he was departing drastically from what he had previously written (he hadn't) and what the public expected of him. This was his response.

A Small Family Business: A Response

Even at my most optimistic, and I am rarely that, I have never sought to ignore real life in my plays. Though in the past many have chosen to ignore the underlying sadness and savagery in them and treated them as jolly romps, alas.

A Small Family Business is not a comedy. I don't describe it as that. It is a play. It has humour in it; it also has sadness. And some anger. Above all, I hope it has truth.

It says what I want to say about the state of the nation today. That collectively it is as greedy; selfish, and as lacking in any overall moral leadership, as over-obsessed with the material as opposed to the spiritual as any this country has seen.

The play postulates that even if there was a truly honest man he would be hard pressed not to be corrupted, so ill-defined and shaky is our current code of moral conduct, the border lines between right and wrong.

It concludes that not one of us can distance ourselves from the distress and sorrow around us.

Nothing terribly original. I think Jesus said it and several Greek Dramatists before him.

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