No Knowing: Concept

In correspondence from December 2015 with the executive director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Alan Ayckbourn talks about the premise of No Knowing. It differs from the final play in that the children are aware of the infidelities of their parents, each revealing to the mother / father, the other's infidelity. Also, although Alan mentions they can be performed in any order, by the time he wrote the piece, they are intended to be performed in the order of Knowing Her followed by Knowing Him. The same correspondence also deals with how the play is Alan's suggested solution to keeping his acting company together for the 2017 Henceforward… tour.

"Briefly, I did think of weaving a Christmas theme into the initial premise of
No Knowing. The theme, very simply, is looking at a so-called, standard ordinary family of four, Mum, Dad, two grown up kids and inviting the audience to make the assumption that 'standard ordinary' necessarily is synonymous with predictable and unexciting. And then confounding those presumptions.
"Or, more specifically, examining the older couple, the parents, the pair of elderly passed-it's. How well do the children, both long since left home and on with their own lives, really know their parents now?
"More specifically still, with the children absent and him into retirement, how well does either parent know the other? The marital bonds that bound them close, children, common self interest, friendship, affection and, above all, sex have long since been loosened by time and familiarity.
"In one part, we discover the wife's secret life, in the other the husband's. As the evening(s) progresse(s), their children's jaws steadily drop lower and lower - as I trust will the audience's! These are, after all, the people living next door! Or even our own family!
"No knowing, really. Any order. Part one:
Knowing Him. Part two: Knowing Her. Hope that's enough to go on."

Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.