The Square Cat: 10 Facts

10 Facts offer an at a glance guide to some of the key information relating to Alan Ayckbourn's plays.
  • The Square Cat is Alan Ayckbourn's first play; although he had written a number of plays prior to this, they had never been produced and The Square Cat was Alan's first professional commission.
  • The world premiere was held at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, on 30 July, 1959.
  • The Square Cat is credited to Roland Allen; a pseudonym used by Alan Ayckbourn for his earliest plays. It also acknowledges that he wrote The Square Cat with help from his first wife Christine Roland (the name being derived from Christine Roland / Alan Ayckbourn).
  • It was performed only once more when it was toured in 1960 to the Municipal Hall, Newcastle-under-Lyme with the same company - except for Alan Ayckbourn, who was replaced in the lead role by Barry Boys having been called up for National Service.
  • The play was commissioned and directed by Stephen Joseph. He is regarded as the most influential mentor in Alan Ayckbourn's life in theatre and encouraged him to both write and direct.
  • The play was commissioned as a direct result of Alan complaining about the quality of role he was appearing in; the particular offending play being Ring Of Roses by David Campton. As a result of the complaint, Stephen Joseph challenged Alan to write a better play.
  • Alan Ayckbourn starred in the original production of the play in the dual role of Jerry Wattis / Arthur Brummage. He had written a role for himself that required him to sing, dance and play guitar - none of which he could do very well!
  • The Square Cat is a farce. It is one of only three pure full-length farces written by Alan Ayckbourn, of which only Taking Steps is available to produce. Although Alan feels there are some farcical elements in several other plays, he only considers The Square Cat, Love After All and Taking Steps to be true farces.
  • The Square Cat has never been published and is not available to produce; Alan withdrew it because he feels it comes from a period when he was learning his craft.
  • For many years, Alan Ayckbourn noted he had tried to destroy all surviving copies of the play. If true, he did not do a very thorough job as original manuscripts are held by the British Library, the University of Manchester and the Ayckbourn Archive at the University of York.
Copyright: Simon Murgatroyd. Please do not reproduce without the permission of the copyright holder.