The Revengers' Comedies: Quotes by Other People

This page includes quotes about the play The Revengers' Comedies 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.

"[Karen] has effectively remained a child, left with no real sense of right or wrong, only of grievance, of the differences between what she wants and what she gets; she engages in a child's game using adult weapons. But she is enjoyable to play not because she is psychologically realistic but because she is a Gothic figure always topping her last appalling act, a crescendo of terrible behaviour which audience enjoys too because this is the game we are watching."

(Paul Allen: A Pocket Guide To Alan Ayckbourn's Plays, 2004, Faber)

"Although The Revengers' Comedies is not exactly flawless, it does say something important about the vain, empty, boomerang nature of revenge. It also, in its final symmetrical scene on Albert Bridge where Henry is forced to choose between the harsh imperatives of Karen and the instinctive warmth of Imogen, shows life triumphing over death, love over hate and the continuity of existence over neurotic frenzy. It is, in the end, one of Ayckbourn's most optimistic works. It also shows him at 50 still experimenting, still pushing the frontiers outwards, still seeking that mysterious, elusive property: the perfect play. The public has always appreciated him. The signs are that critics and fellow artists (who recently elected him, in an Observer poll, the Playwrights' Playwright) are beginning to realise that he is the best comic dramatist since Moliere."
(Michael Billington: Alan Ayckbourn, 1990, Palgrave)

"Here [the second act] the comedy assumes grotesque proportions; Henry Bell's pact with Karen Knightly for the solving of each other's problems turns from dream solution into nightmare driven by fanaticism. Ms Knightly is revealed as distinctly unbalanced, ruthless and obsessive in her determination to eliminate enemies, real and imagined. One cannot but be tempted to see political allegory in this play written at the end of the Thatcher premiership. The lady crusades through the offices of Lembridge Tennit with unbending zeal. In Ayckbourn's original Scarborough production she strode down corridors of light, in and out of lifts created by sound and lighting effects, holding telephone conversations picked out in individual spotlights with a distant Henry Bell. The stage directions are distinctly filmic and have a double effect. Firstly, they underline Karen's insane tunnel vision as the lighting isolates her. At the same time, they enlarge the visual statement. The effects, technically simple enough, enable Ayckbourn to suggest that the office block is a corporate warren and that we can encompass this, and indeed the whole of Karen's world, by cutting or cross-fading in the way a film editor might. We are given the freedom to visit almost any part of her domain and it reinforces the notion that this Ealing comedy has a larger purpose and vision."

(Michael Holt: Alan Ayckbourn, 1999, Northcote Press)

"The corrupt political environment which these characters [in The Revengers' Comedies] inhabit is instantly recognisable as that of the last 1980s - even the Iran-Contra scandal gets a mention. As usual, Ayckbourn uses it as the backdrop for a discussion of ethics on a more immediate, individual level. In fact, the relation of worldly matters - particularly business - to personal morality is a central theme of the play. Henry's innocent belief that he will get on merely by working well is starkly opposed to the essential inhumanity of organisational politics - a feature thinly disguised by the jargon used to justify his redundancy."
(Duncan Wu: Six Contemporary Playwrights, 1995, St Martin's Press)

All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd.