Snake In The Grass: Interview With Alan AyckbournThe following interview is an extract from a larger interview with Alan Ayckbourn about his supernatural plays. It was conducted by Simon Murgatroyd in 2008 and the transcript for the full interview can be found here.
Simon Murgatroyd: What is the dominant theme of Snake In the Grass?
Alan Ayckbourn: The theme of Snake is very much abuse. It parallels the suicide in Haunting Julia: that effect abuse or suicide has on the victim or survivors. It's interesting that the victims of domestic abuse very often consider themselves to blame in some way when the husband’s bashing the living daylights out of them. They stand by them and say awful thingslike: “I have only myself to blame” and you think “Oh my God. How have you come to that mental state?” Annabel tries in her long speech to say I wanted him - her husband, Brad - to notice me, I just wanted to get his attention. He’s just drifted away, first of all he’s neglected her sexually, then socially, then intellectually and finally emotionally. So she behaves badly and gets whacked and falls into this spiral of violence. And he's one of those abusers who is immediately apologetic, makes it up to her, cries and holds her, apologises and buys her flowers and chocolates; which is no cycle to be in.
One suspects Miriam and Lewis’s [Alice] relationship is slightly violent as well. Miriam gives that hint when she asks Annabel whether she enjoyed getting hit. Which of course Annabel didn’t. Annabel is in a sense prepared to put up with it in order to get the results, Miriam has gone one step further and quite likes the idea of violence.
And of course, ironically, Miriam believes that by running away Annabel escaped her father, but she doesn't really escape.
In a sense, Annabel marries her father.
Would you say parental love, often a very dysfunctional love, is also an important theme of the play?
Yes, Father bullied Miriam and Annabel. He’s that classic alpha male father who bullies the older daughter into being a boy throwing tennis balls at this poor girl. I do know fathers, who have daughters, who bowl short pitch cricket balls for hours; the poor girls fending them off as best they could before running off to the comfort of their home and their doll houses.
Copyright: Simon Murgatroyd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.