Virtual Reality: Facts

Key facts relating to Alan Ayckbourn's Virtual Reality.
  • Virtual Reality is Alan Ayckbourn's 56th play.
  • The world premiere was held at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, on 3 February 2000.
  • It is the one of only several plays which Alan Ayckbourn has withdrawn due to unhappiness with the final play; most of the other withdrawn plays are his earliest writing. As a result, Virtual Reality has never been published and is not available for production.
  • One of the play's inspirations was Alan sitting at a restaurant and noticing a table where the couple did not speak to each other for most of the night, choosing instead to be talking on their mobile phones throughout the entire meal.
  • Virtual Reality begins a cycle of four plays (including the Damsels In Distress trilogy) set in London. Alan rarely writes plays set in London, but felt his increased time in the capital city in recent years influenced his decision. Other notable plays set in London include Sugar Daddies and Private Fears In Public Places.
  • Virtual Reality is considered one of Alan Ayckbourn's end-stage plays; plays written specifically for end-stage production (although several of them have gone on to be produced in the round). The other plays are: Bedroom Farce, A Small Family Business, Haunting Julia and Things We Do For Love. Although Jeeves and House were originally performed as end-stage plays, unlike the other plays they were not specifically written for end-stage performance.
  • Virtual Reality was the first Ayckbourn play of the new millennium; although due to it being withdrawn and never been published, it is now very difficult to see how Alan Ayckbourn saw the new century in!
  • The character of the literary agent Beth was apparently loosely inspired by Alan Ayckbourn's own long-standing agent Margaret 'Peggy' Ramsay.
  • The name of the virtual gardener McGregor is a nod to both the Mr McGregor character in Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit novels as well as Alan's long-standing designer Roger Glossop, who has a Beatrix Potter attraction (and accompanying theatre-in-the-round) in the Lake District.
  • The original set - designed by Roger Glossop - featured a dual revolve to allow for quick scene changes; this did however prove a particularly challenging show for the Stephen Joseph Theatre to tour as a result.
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