Asides: “Woman in Mind”

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Date(s) – Wednesday 16 May

Rehearsal room



Asides is an umbrella title for a series of activities unconnected with our main projects, aimed at providing an alternative to preparation for a major production. Possibilities include play-readings, poetry or technical workshops, but we are open to suggestions. You don’t have to be a Tagora member to attend; but since the venue is within the security zone of the Palais de l’Europe we do have to make arrangements for anyone who doesn’t have a badge giving access to the premises. If you fall into that category, please contact Tagora at least 48 hours in advance to give us time to complete the formalities.

Woman in Mind, by Alan Ayckbourn. Co-ordinator: Marise Boylan

The central character in Woman in Mind is Susan. She is a housewife who, in reality, is neglected by her husband, patronised by her sister-in-law, and estranged from her son. In her own imaginary world, by contrast, she is happy, successful, and loved by her perfect family. Susan remains on-stage throughout the play, and everything seen and heard on stage is what is seen and heard by Susan, both real and imagined.

Ayckbourn himself was conscious that this play was radically different from his earlier plays in that the audience is expected to engage with a character whose perceptions are unreliable. He has also commented that he did not want the central character to be a man in case audiences took the play to be autobiographical. Nevertheless, Paul Allen, Ayckbourn’s biographer, believes that Woman in Mind is Ayckbourn’s most personal play and that a major influence on it may have been a breakdown suffered by his mother in the 1950s. The entire play takes place in what is, in reality, Susan and Gerald’s tiny back garden. In Susan’s imagination – and with it the audience’s view – the same piece of grass becomes a small part of her imaginary vast estate (with trees, lakes and a tennis court all in easy reach), with a transition between the two worlds largely achieved through changes in sound and lighting. The play premiered in 1985 and despite pedestrian reviews by many critics, strong audience reaction resulted in a transfer to London’s West End where it received predominantly excellent reviews.

Woman in Mind was Ayckbourn’s first play to use first-person narrative and a subjective viewpoint and is considered to be one of his most affecting works and one of his best.