The Sparrow: Quotes by Other People

This page includes quotes about the play The Sparrow 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.

"Because the two plays which preceded it [The Sparrow] (and so many that followed) were such successes, its failure to interest commercial producers is more marked. It is a somewhat downbeat play, more than usually redolent of a style abroad in the late 1960s, with echoes of Harold Pinter and many less well-remembered writers, but it still reads well and played successfully in Scarborough."
(Paul Allen: A Pocket Guide to Alan Ayckbourn’s Plays, 2004, Faber)

"[The Sparrow] deserved a longer life: to the student of Ayckbourn, it is also a fascinating reminder that he is no boulevard lightweight but an obsessive writer repeatedly returning to the impact of marriage on human relationships."
(Michael Billington: Alan Ayckbourn (2nd Ed), 1990, ISBN 0333498976)

"I assume that Ayckbourn, who in his job as a BBC drama producer was exposed to a lot of plays, was merely subconsciously offering his own variation on the kind of themes that were floating around English drama, and life, in the 1960s: themes to do with territory, domination and domestic power being aired not only in plays by Pinter and Jellicoe but in the anthropological works of Robert Ardrey and Konrad Lorenz. The play is also definably Ayckbourn's in its disenchanted view of marriage and in its sympathy for the victims of marital power games who finally strike a blow for independence. Ayckbourn is fascinated by the relationship between the exploiter and the exploited; and, from first to last, he is emphatically on the side of the underdog."
(Michael Billington: Alan Ayckbourn (2nd Ed), 1990, ISBN 0333498976)

"[The Sparrow] approaches, if it does not achieve, the claustrophobic shape and menacing air of a Pinter play. Its atmosphere is nearly that evoked, at Stephen Joseph's urging, in several plays by another Scarborough playwright David Campton."
(Albert E. Kalson: Laughter In The Dark, 1991, Associated Universities Press)

"I have the curious distinction of having been in the only Ayckbourn play which never got beyond Scarborough and was never seen again; it was called The Sparrow and was a distinctly curious piece, not at all about family jokes or anything like that."*
(Robert Powell - actor, The Times, 20 April 1981)

"The Sparrow was about four young characters exploring the tensions of marriage and living in an extremely grotty, filthy flat. Being a lazy stage manager I tried to get away with a degree of relative disarray, rather than genuine dirt. What Ayckbourn wanted was real filth, and he bawled me out for not giving it to him."
(Ian Watson, The Sunday Telegraph, 14 June 1981)

* This isn't entirely accurate as there have been a number of Ayckbourn plays which have never gone further than Scarborough over the decades.

All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd.