Alan Ayckbourn: Actor


Soldier From The Wars Returning (1960 / 1961)

Play: Soldier From The Wars Returning
Author:
David Campton
Opening Night:
4 August 1960
Venue:
Library Theatre, Scarborough
Staging:
Round

Director:
Stephen Joseph

Character
Barmaid
Barman
Soldier

Actor
Faynia Jeffery
Alan Ayckbourn
Derrick Gilbert
Stacks Image 192
Alan (centre) in Soldier From The Wars returning
Copyright: Scarborough Theatre Trust

Quotes & Notes

During 1960, Alan Ayckbourn's career was predominantly concentrated on acting at the Library Theatre, Scarborough. He was part of the acting company in both the summer and winter seasons and his playwriting was limited to one show, Dad's Tale, during the winter season.

Soldier From The Wars Returning was one of three short plays presented as part of David Campton's anthology View From The Brink. Alan notably played a one eyed, one armed and one legged barman. He would reprise the role during the 1960 / 1961 Studio Theatre Ltd winter tour when the play was included in another Campton anthology Four Minute Warning.

"Besides writing we [David Campton and Alan Ayckbourn] also performed regularly in each other's plays. It soon became a matter of honour to try and write each other the ultimately unplayable, unrewarding - acting role - preferably as humiliating and physically uncomfortable as possible. We also became adroit at creating for each other unrecognisable or oft repeated cue lines combined with long tortuous speeches with impossible thought changes.
"But I have to concede that David was clearly the winner in all this. My own lame attempts to cause him discomfort by having his character regularly struck with blunt instruments or drenched in water, flour, treacle, soot and other substances (all strictly to further the dramatic action, you understand) was as nothing compared to his own sadistic streak when it came to writing roles for me. Amongst these, a one-armed, one-legged, one-eyed barman who, quite apart from having to stand on one leg for 40 minutes, was also required to dispense rapid drinks one-handedly whilst engaging in quick-fire repartee with the customers (those of them I could actually make out with my restricted vision)."
(Alan Ayckbourn writing about David Campton in 2001)

Review extract from The Stage (18 August 1960)
"Derrick Gilbert… makes a comically pathetic soldier, looking for the fruits of victory helped by Faynia Jeffery's flirtatious barmaid and Alan Ayckbourn's happily gloomy barman."

All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd.