The Sparrow: Scene

This page reproduces a scene from the play offering an insight into and a taste of the work. The dialogue is reproduced in the style of the original including grammatical choices / errors.
Dialogue in italics indicates material cut from the performed script.

Act I Scene II

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Evie: She's got a nice car.
Tony: Has she?
Evie: Great. She must be rich.
Tony: She's loaded.
Evie: That a fact? Who is she then?
Tony: She's my wife.
Evie: Oh.
Tony: Yes. Didn't we mention it?
Evie: Not that I remember.... You didn't even tell me you were married.
Tony: Didn't I?
Evie: That's a bit of a funny way to carry on with your wife isn't it?
Tony: What ---?
Evie: Just now. Looked more like a meeting of the local council. Don't you live with her?
Tony: No.
Evie: Why not?
Tony: I don't like her.
Evie: Oh.
Tony: She doesn't like me either so it works out quite well.
Evie: Why did you get married then?
Tony: Ah well. It’s a bit of a romantic story that. I was over the Thames embankment admiring this fellow painting his house boat and I fell in and as I was coming up for the third time she dives in and pulls me out. She was nearly Junior Women's British Butterfly Stroke Champion at one time, so it was a walk over for her. And she pulled me ashore and gave me the kiss of life. Well, just at that moment who should come along on his bike but her father who was delivering newspapers at the time, and being an old-fashioned type he rather thought of his daughter as being compromised seeing as there was a crowd of about a hundred people round us. So we had to get married rather quickly. I hardly had time to get the duckweed out of my ear - I can tell you.
Evie: (disbelieving) That's not why.
Tony: Something like that. It was a long time ago now, you can't expect me to remember all the details.
Evie: You know something? I think you're ever so slightly a bit of a stark raving nut-head.
Tony: What gives you that impression?
Evie: I've been thinking it out.


This scene, reproduced from one of only two original manuscripts of The Sparrow known to exist (one in the Ayckbourn Archive at the University of York and the other at the British Library) demonstrates one of the earliest examples in an Ayckbourn play of what he would later dub: “Men's inhumanity to women, women's inhumanity to men and the physical world's inhumanity to us all.”
It is a scene which would not look out of place in one of the later, darker plays in which the abrupt, matter-of-fact manner in which Tony reveals the state of his marriage is both humorous but also quite brutal. As the play later reveals, it is also a pretty accurate reflection of Tony and Julia’s relationship and there is no doubt that their reconciliation at the climax of the play is likely to be brief.
Evie is also one of the author’s - relatively - innocent characters. Or at least someone who is not interested playing the types of games which Tony plays. Whilst it does some unlikely that her and Ed’s relationship will stand the test of time at the end of the play, it is - at least for the moment - more honest and open than Tony and Julia’s.
It also offers a brief insight into one of Alan Ayckbourn's earliest examples of a strong female character. Evie is ‘the sparrow’ of the play, but as the scene demonstrates near the end, she’s an interesting character to deal with.
The Scene and Archive Images pages are presented in association with the Borthwick Institute for Archives at the University of York, where the Ayckbourn Archive is held.
The scene reproduced on this page (both transcription and the actual page) is copyright of Haydonning Ltd and should not be reproduced in any format without the permission of the copyright holder. All other material is written by Simon Murgatroyd and copyright of Haydonning Ltd and should not be reproduced without permission.
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