The Square Cat: Scene

This page reproduces a scene from the play offering an insight into and a taste of the work. The dialogue is reproduced in the style of the original including grammatical choices / errors.
Dialogue in italics indicates material cut from the performed script.

Stacks Image 83
Act I (pages 16 - 18)
Mum: (Summoning strength - determined.) Sidney, you can't stay here.
Dad: (Startled) What?
Mum: I've thought about it very carefully and I must ask you to leave.
Dad: Now wait a minute -
Mum: If you can't trust your own wife than that's your fault.
Dad: My fault? What do you mean? You correspond behind my back with a man who has a reputation as an international gigolo of the first order -
Mum: He hasn't.
Dad: And you expect me to calmly sit back and read a book.
Mum: You are the most possessive man.
Dad: Certainly I'm possessive.
Mum: And selfish.
Dad: I deny that.
Mum: You won't let anyone to have any sort of amusement.
Dad: Amusement? What sort of amusement do you call this?
Mum: Of course it is.
Dad: Adultery, thank God, even in this demoralised civilisation has not yet been classified as an amusement.
Mum: Twenty years. I've wasted twenty years of my life on a man like you.
Dad: What do you mean, wasted? I've always been completely fair by you, Alice.
Mum: Every morning I've sat and watched you grunt your way through your breakfast. I've put up with your moods and your shocking temper.
Dad: I have never lost my temper. I have always been completely calm even under the most catastrophic circumstances. And let me tell you, Alice, if I'd been half the man I am I'd have walked out on you a long, long time ago.
Mum: Go on, then. I don't want you.
Dad: I'm not going to give you the satisfaction.
Mum: You brute. You callous, self-centred brute.
…..….(They stand glaring)
Mum: Very well. If you won't go, I won't make you.
Dad: I can assure you, Alice, if I leave you leave with me.
Mum: I invited Jerry down here and I intend to stay.

Notes

This scene, reproduced from an original manuscript held in the Ayckbourn Archive at the University Of York, is one of the most interesting sections of The Square Cat. The play is a farce and offers very little indication of the direction the playwright would eventually take in his writing.
However, this scene - which stands in contrast with the actions of Alice and Sidney later in the play - is possibly the one which we would consider today the most reflective of Ayckbourn's themes. The relationship between Alice and Sidney is pushed to breaking point and - as written - is quite harsh and sees Alice at her strongest and most interesting.
As the cut dialogue shows though (in italics), the character was watered down for performance considerably though and is a far more compliant and subdued character more in line with the woman who capitulates totally by the end of the play and is restored to a conventional and happy relationship with Sidney.
What remains though is an early example of the type of dysfunctional Ayckbourn male figure in the form of Sidney, which would become a prevalent part of his writing, epitomised by Dennis from
Just Between Ourselves.
Although
The Square Cat is resolved with a happy ending where all relationships are restored to the status quo and the events of the play are deemed largely inconsequential, this scene offers the one brief peek at one of the themes which Ayckbourn will develop extensively throughout his writing career.

The scene reproduced on this page (both transcription and the actual page) is copyright of Alan Ayckbourn and should not be reproduced in any format without the permission of the copyright holder. All other material is copyright of Simon Murgatroyd and should not be reproduced without permission.