Sisterly Feelings by Alan Ayckbourn
Wednesday 15th to Saturday 18th October 2003
Alan Ayckbourn’s programme note concerning the structure of Sisterly Feelings
In the normal course of events, during a performance of Sisterly Feelings, you’ll be watching a sequence of scenes selected from the two scripts, Abigail and Dorcas, which comprise the play.
Since the decisions as to how the evening proceeds are made actually on stage, partly by chance and partly by the performers during the action, no one at the outset (least of all myself) can predict with certainty which of the four possible permutations will be played.
I can, with reasonable confidence though, expect a selection to be made from:-
Scene 1 – Prologue
Scene 2 – Abigail’s Picnic or Dorcas’s Picnic
Scene 3 – A Day at the Races or A Night under Canvas
Scene 4 – Footnote
(In our version we performed Dorcas’s Picnic and A Night under Canvas)
Following the funeral of his wife, Ralph brings his family to a favourite spot on Pendon Common. With him are his two daughters, Abigail and Dorcas – trailing businessman husband Patrick and radical poet boyfriend Stafford respectively; his student son, Melvyn – with his fiancée Brenda and her brother Simon, and his brother-in-law, Detective Inspector Len, with his wife Rita. Both Abigail and Dorcas are attracted to the bronzed and athletic Simon. When Patrick has to leave prematurely to attend a business meeting, the rest are left with insufficient cars to get them all home. Either Abigail or Dorcas will have to walk home with Simon. They toss a coin and the loser goes home by car.
(In our version Abigail went in the car and Dorcas walked with Simon)
Scene 2 is a picnic four months later. Responsible for the arrangements of the picnic is whichever daughter lost the toss in Scene 1. The other daughter arrives at the picnic by bicycle, accompanied by Simon, and the proceedings are disturbed by the unexpected presence at the picnic of the husband / boyfriend whom Simon is currently displacing. The picnic is curtailed by a rainstorm, at which point the daughter accompanying Simon has to decide whether to remain with him – and face a soaking bike ride – or to return to her original partner.
(In our version Abigail cycled with Simon)
Scene 3: a proposed romantic night under canvas with Simon and Abigail (which goes badly awry, thanks to vigilante patrolling by policeman Len).
Scene 4; After Melvyn and Brenda’s wedding