Follow The Lover: Background

Follow The Lover is classified as one of Alan Ayckbourn's Grey Plays. These are plays which are acknowledged miscellaneous minor pieces by Alan Ayckbourn, which have received limited performance but have never been published, are not available for production and are not included in the official canon of Ayckbourn plays.

Follow The Lover is a one act play written by Alan Ayckbourn and, in all likelihood, premiered in an amateur production double bill with another Ayckbourn one act play Double Hitch in 1962.

Very little information is known about the play, except that it was written by Alan under the pseudonym of Roland Allen, very likely in late 1961 or early 1962. The most plausible first performance is circa March 1962 at the
Library Theatre, Scarborough. Although this cannot be confirmed, unlike Double Hitch there is no record of Follow The Lover being performed prior to 1962 nor a record of a performance license being issued by the Lord Chamberlain's Office for it (until 1968, all productions - both amateur and professional - had to be licensed by the Lord Chamberlain's Office for public performance). However as Double Hitch was given its official license in February 1962 and it's reasonably certain Follow The Lover debuted with this play (as all known prior double-bill productions of Double Hitch were with other plays), this seems the most obvious candidate for its premiere as of writing. The use of the pseudonym Roland Allen also means the play cannot have been written or performed later than mid-1962 as by then he had reverted to his real name for writing credits.

The play was directed by Margaret Boden for Scarborough Theatre Guild and Alan Ayckbourn recalls acting in
Follow The Lover opposite her husband Ken Boden, the theatre manager of Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre, Scarborough. Follow The Lover does not appear to have been performed again and has not been published in any form. It comes from a period when Alan recalls writing a number of short one act plays for amateur performance including Love Undertaken, Double Hitch, Follow The Lover and The Party Game.

The one act comedy centres on a middle-aged couple who each believe they are cheating on each other and have hired two young private investigators to find the truth; unfortunately the older man hires a young woman and the older woman hires a young man. Naturally the appearance of two young strangers confirms each of the couple's suspicions about their illicit affairs. As matters quickly degenerate between the older couple, the investigators decide to slip off together.

Only two copies of the original manuscript for
Follow The Lover are known to exist with one held in the Ayckbourn Archive at the Borthwick Institute at the University Of York.

Article by Simon Murgatroyd. Copyright: Haydonning Ltd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.