Man Of The Moment: Quotes by Other People

This page includes quotes about the play Man Of The Moment by people other than Alan Ayckbourn, predominantly drawn from books and articles about Alan Ayckbourn or British theatre; it does not include quotes from reviews, which can be found in the Reviews pages.

"Also informing the play is a deep scepticism about the media. This is not simply the usual response of the criticised to the critics, although that is undoubtedly part of it. Ayckbourn had plenty of experience of being interviewed. After a tongue-tied start, he made himself a very effective radio and print interviewee while rarely giving away anything away that he didn't want to, all the while soaking up the details of the process and the people involved. But he was never as convincing in the much more controlled medium of television. So it was television and its relationship to truth, celebrity and fame that interested him, especially its ability to make manipulative rogues seem charming - and decent but earnest men and women seem dull."
(Paul Allen: A Pocket Guide To Alan Ayckbourn's Plays, 2004, Faber)

"Two established dramatists did, however, end the decade with their reputations greatly enhanced: Alan Ayckbourn and David Hare. For all their obvious differences, what unites them is their tireless dedication to the idea of theatre and their fierce moral concern with the state of the nation. Ayckbourn began the decade with Way Upstream and a group of characters drifting aboard a cabin-cruiser towards Armageddon Bridge. He went on to tackle sanctioned greed in A Small Family Business, social disintegration and the technological nightmare in Henceforward..., the cult of the criminal in Man Of The Moment. Ayckbourn's genius is to make us laugh while exposing the moral bankruptcy of the age."
(Michael Billington, The Guardian, 28 December 1989)

"This is Ayckbourn at the top of his bent; using comedy both to state fundamental truths about human nature and also to send us out of the theatre questioning the kind of topsy-turvy values of our society and the mendacity of our most popular form of communication. It is also a phenomenally daring play in that two-thirds of it consists of recapitulated action that explains precisely why people behave as they do in the present. But, with each new play, Ayckbourn seems to become a richer writer, he uses drama to say disquieting things while still taking his audience with him. He is a comic pessimist, a farcical Diogenes who takes an increasingly sombre view of the state of modern Britain while still giving audiences the tonic of laughter and a good night out."
(Michael Billington: Alan Ayckbourn, 1990, Palgrave)

Man Of The Moment is a vivid indictment of the power of the media to act as succubus. Television is a mighty tool, and, Ayckbourn implies, in the wrong hands invites its own abuse by the ambitious, the insecure, the exploitative and the ruthless. He shows us its victims misled by half-truths and distortions…. But Ayckbourn does not let any of us escape. The final scene is one of his best, for, in a technically adroit curtain call, he indicts all of us as accomplices in a television scam. We suddenly become not theatre-goers but an invited studio audience, watching the filming of a re-enactment of the scenes we have just witnessed. But these scenes have been changed for the cameras, and so have the actors…. The device is awesome, many layered; television is not only distorting what it shows us, but duping our responses."
(Michael Holt: Alan Ayckbourn, 1991, Northcote House)

"[Vic] is destroyed by an evil even greater than his own selfish malevolence, the manipulative electronic medium that dictates standards, tastes, and values and creates the hollow heroes who use a pliant public for their own ends. The agent of that evil is Jill Rillington, who, unknowingly, has avenged all of Ayckbourn's put-upon women. Having started Vic on the road to fame and fortune, she, not Douglas, has demanded he pay a price, to appear on
Their Paths Crossed because, as she puts it, "He owes me one."
(Albert F Kalson: Laughter In The Dark, 1993 Associated Universities Press)

"Though he has now written as many plays as Shakespeare, Ayckbourn's range is not quite as wide nor his language as memorable. But his insights may be as deep. In his ability to convert the tears and laughter of every day life, he is more like Chekhov."
(Charles Spencer, Daily Telegraph, 16 February 1990)

"Vic fails to see that Nerys remains undeceived by his adopted role as guardian of public safety, bound forever by her apprehension of him at the moment he shot her in the face. She identifies him - correctly as it turns out - as a malign spirit. But the play's hardest lesson is that such forces defy exorcism. Like Trudy, we remain in some sense wedded to evil, and mere recognition is not sufficient to disempower it."
(John Wu: Six Contemporary Dramatists, 1995, St Martin's Press)

All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd.