Woman In Mind: Quotes by Other People

This page includes quotes about the play Woman In Mind 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.

"She [Susan] has escaped into a fantasy world with an ideal family. It is, however, a recurring theme of Ayckbourn's that fantasy families and friends are even more destructive than the real thing."
(Paul Allen: A Pocket Guide to Alan Ayckbourn's Plays, 2004, Faber)

"This is a tough and dangerous play…. Woman In Mind invites us to experience the collapse of Susan's sanity from the inside, not through the multi-headed narrative involving other characters (as in Just Between Ourselves). The fluent sequence of scenes, unbroken by anything more than lighting changes, gives it something of the quality of a runaway train; there is no let-up. Susan's intelligence turned destructively inwards for want of another outlet…. Ayckbourn's dramatic gift is nowhere better expressed than in the device of a twisted language that starts as comedy, disappears for two hours and then returns with savage force as Susan describes a creature so completely out of place and time ['December Bee'] while desperately asking us to 'remember me'.
(Paul Allen: A Pocket Guide to Alan Ayckbourn's Plays, 2004, Faber)

"He [Ayckbourn] writes about women with a sympathy and understanding unrivalled amongst his male contemporaries. His plays are filled with neglected, frustrated, unfulfilled middle-class wives (Hedda Gablers of the suburbs) ignored or deceived by their husbands and untrained for meaningful careers."
(Michael Billington, The Guardian, 19 July 1985)

"Ayckbourn looks safe: in fact, he takes outlandish risks. He writes, initially for a comfortably seaside audience who have clearly come for a good night out. He then gives them a play like Woman In Mind which deals with temporary insanity, which puts the agents of God and the Devil on stage and which leaves the audience constantly guessing as to what is reality and what is fantasy. But perhaps his greatest risk - and a sign of his maturity as a dramatist - is that he leaves it to us to decide what is funny."
(Michael Billington, The Guardian, 19 July 1985)

"It [
Woman In Mind] offers one of the most sympathetic, imaginative, compassionate accounts of womanhood written by any British dramatist since the war (Terence Rattigan's The Deep Blue Sea is its most serious rival)."
(Michael Billington: Alan Ayckbourn, 1990, Palgrave)

"With this play the dated notion of Ayckbourn as a mild-mannered farceur is decisively laid to rest. He is writing about madness, menopausal female frustration and the failure of religion to do its proper work in the world. The miracle is that the play still manages to be hugely funny."
(Michael Billington: Alan Ayckbourn, 1990, Palgrave)

"The effect of this realization [Susan's belief she is making love to the Devil near the climax of the play] is intensified for the audience because Ayckbourn has fulfilled the ambition implicit in his initial stage directions. He has united audience and protagonist, making both see the world entirely from her viewpoint. The horror is that to the discomfort of the audience, and as a consequence of the completion of his stage direction, she slides into total insanity, the state lit by the blue flashing light of an ambulance. As Ayckbourn says, the audience has 'thrown in its lot with someone who isn't altogether to be trusted, either in her opinions or her perceptions."
(Michael Holt: Alan Ayckbourn, 1999, Northcote House)

"What makes the play [
Woman In Mind] effective in its movement from naturalism to expressionism is that the protagonist, until the onset of madness, is a seemingly average human being, ordinary but troubled - a twentieth century Everywoman."
(Albert F Kalson: Laughter In The Dark, 1991, Associated Universities Press)

"[A] pervasive sense of waste is what finally give
Woman In Mind its tragic shape, for Ayckbourn conceived of tragedy in structural terms rather than as moments when the affective energy of the drama precipitates in a single, appalling apprehension - as when Desdemona dies defending Othello. That's not to say that Ayckbourn is any less concerned with content than Shakespeare; on the contrary, he has defined tragedy in distinctly moral terms: 'It is to do with choices we make, wrong choices, leading to further wrong choices...'"
(John Wu: Six Contemporary Dramatists, 1995, St Martin's Press)

All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd.