The Jollies: In Brief

Key Facts relating to Alan Ayckbourn's The Jollies.
  • The Jollies is Alan Ayckbourn's 62nd play.
  • The world premiere was held at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, on 3 December 2002.
  • The Jollies was originally the title for an entirely different play inspired by reality television. Although unwritten, this play was advertised and the Stephen Joseph Theatre had gone so far as to start creating poster concepts and marketing campaigns. Due to writer's block, Alan did not write this play but came up with another idea entirely featuring the same title.
  • It is one of his 'family' plays; these plays are written with a family audience in mind, but are considered by the playwright to be part of his full-length play canon and as significant in his canon as any of the other plays. Alan Ayckbourn's first family play is considered to be Mr A's Amazing Maze Plays in 1988.
  • The family plays are frequently thematically linked to one of Alan Ayckbourn's 'adult' plays. Although The Jollies is one of the few plays not to have an obvious link to a previous play, it does contain themes first seen in Body Language, in which two women find their heads transplanted onto each other's bodies and must learn to cope with this new-found situation. The body-swapping of boy to adult and adult to girl in The Jollies puts the protagonists in a similar situation of having to cope with their new circumstances as well as appreciating what they had.
  • It is one of several plays by Alan Ayckbourn to feature time-travel as a significant element. Alan Ayckbourn's other time-travel plays include Communicating Doors, Whenever, Miss Yesterday and Surprises.
  • It stands as the only Ayckbourn full-length canon play to have an element of improvisation in that the play opens with Mr Magico's magic act. This is not only interactive with the audience but was written with the intention that it could be lengthened or shortened as suited the 'magic' skills of the actor; Alan's only other foray into improvisation its with The Karaoke Theatre Company.
  • It is the second of Alan Ayckbourn's plays to feature a dog as a character following Mr A's Amazing Maze Plays. The dog in The Jollies is called Rambo and although its breed is not given, it is described as a dog "with very big teeth and the size of a small horse."
  • It is only the third of Alan Ayckbourn's plays to feature a main character who steps out of the narrative to address the audience. Previously he had used this technique in Invisible Friends and Miss Yesterday.
  • At the climax of the play, the characters enter the cabinet to find their 'real' selves and encounter echoes of themselves from throughout their lives. For the original production, staff from throughout the Stephen Joseph Theatre were recruited to appear on stage as the echoes of Billy and Jilly.
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