Sugar Daddies: Quotes by Alan Ayckbourn

"Sugar Daddies is another bittersweet comedy about a "Father Xmas" who is nearly run down on the street by a young, innocent catering student. It's a play about role-playing and first impressions."
(Denver Post, 3 March 2003)

"I wanted to write a totally platonic love story."
(Yorkshire Post, 14 June 2003)

"It's a cautionary tale with undertones of Dr Faustus: do you sell your soul and how far do you sell it? Sasha is this girl from the country who has gone up to London for the first time to stay with her half-sister, who, she's hardly met, having lived in with her parents in Norfolk in this idyllic place with the family tea shop. In rescuing Father Christmas, we have this unlikely relationship between Sasha and this man who's playing Father Christmas but isn't quite what he seems - as happens in many of my plays....
"This is one of my character plays. I was fascinated by how long you could go with a relationship just to keep someone happy. Here you have two people in a fantasy relationship, and I'm looking at whether it will last, or destroy them and her in particular. Women are often attracted to powerful, unscrupulous, dangerous men, where you think 'My God, why are they doing that?', but these men have this aura about them, and so the women keep putting their hand in the fire."
(Yorkshire Evening Press, 11 July 2003)

"A comedy of dark intentions.... This latest one is about a young female student who comes to the rescue of a pedestrian after he narrowly escapes being run over. He is an elderly man who is in his seventies and he's dressed as Father Christmas because he's delivering presents to the children at the hospital.
"Basically, it's all about a how a very close, but very platonic, relationship develops between them and how, effectively, he becomes her sugar daddy. It's quite a departure in tone for me but I think it went tremendously well!"
(Unknown publication, 31 July 2003)

"Is Father Christmas quite as he appears and what is driving her? Is it really love or desire? As the play goes on we learn more about the nature of both of them [Sasha and Vic]. It is a love story, but rather than a 'who dunnit' it is more of a 'who are they and what are they?' It is a bit like a
Faust story where people sell their soul to the devil. If, like the girl in this instance, you meet a bloke who gives you everything you want - to be chauffeur-driven, have clothes galore, shoes and all the normal trappings - does that corrupt you, or is it good for you? I am always fascinated by the way, certainly after the first few encounters with love, one tends to modify oneself to try to start again with a new person. So we might think: 'This time I will try not to be bad tempered. I will be this lovely, rounded, strong person.' It starts off well but takes about 20 minutes to revert to your old self."
(The Sentinel, 12 October 2003)

"Sugar Daddies is a love story on the one hand, but a love story where two people never touch. I think, the interesting thing in the play is her progression towards corruption. Uncle Val is insidious in the play, about the most evil man I’ve ever written. He is a man who attempts to live down his past. He has lived his life exploiting women in prostitution rings. He’s also hinted that he’s done what these guys do and 'got rid of' ones who have become difficult. In the end he’s always treated women as a commodity. I was very interested, about when these guys get to a certain age - these people, you know, get increasingly soft around the edges, sentimental. And I witnessed the Kray brothers when they were released. And they were the most violent, evil men: they did terrible things to people. And they were let out and there was sort of a wave of sentiment for them. And they were like, you know: we were just lads…. No, you weren’t just lads, you were violent criminals. Psychotic, violent criminals to boot. But still, Uncle Val is there, and I think in Sasha he sees a girl who is apparently innocent, and he sees in her an attempt at redemption. And he spends money on her, he coddles her, does all sorts of things for her. He’s sort of kind to her, in an attempt - in his own mind, I suspect - that when he gets up to heaven, God will give him a huge plus in his ledger."
(A Guide Tour Through Ayckbourn Country - second edition, Albert-Reiner Glaap)

"It's about how we tend to want to re-invent ourselves, to push our James Bond personas. But that never works. Within 20 minutes you are rumbled and people know who you are and where you have come from. There is a total obsession with age gaps at the moment, so we are dealing with topical territory. I have to say, the play gets very dark indeed. The two characters are not what they seem."
(Woking Lifestyle, January 2004)

"I was fascinated at the way we pretend, we select. It’s best summed up by when you’re very young and you meet a girl and the inevitable moment comes when you want to take her back to meet the parents. And then you’re thinking, “How am I going to look against the backdrop of my parents, who still look at me as 8 years old?” And she’s thinking the same thing.
"People like Sasha respond to other people she senses have an expectation of her. She in turn has an image of old people as being friendly. “Uncle” Val is trying to put a very dark past behind him, and Sasha presents him with an edited version of herself. For most of us, it’s a presentation of ourselves, which we sense the other is expecting."

(Crosscut, 3 October 2013)

"It is, in the end, the story of a girl corrupted by worldly goods. Do you sell your soul or do you hold on to it? There's nothing particularly English to it."
(American Theatre Magazine, October 2013)

"Val is probably the most evil character I’ve written. For some reason all my evil characters seem to begin with V: Uncle Val, Vic [Man of the Moment], Vince [Way Upstream]. It’s a strange little motif. The man playing it in Scarborough said, “This must be the most evil man I’ve ever played.” He comes from that old-style East End gangster mode; he’s a capo, a don."
(Memeteria, 8 October 2013)

Concerning his decision to alter the climax of the play in 2013: "Rereading the play, I thought Sasha goes through this experience pretty well unscathed. She escapes with just a singe. I wanted those last few moments to show that there’s part of Uncle Val that’s been left with her. If you’ve supped with the devil, you’ve probably burnt your tongue.
"There is a sense that Sasha is refreshingly clear-eyed at the beginning, the 'country mouse' who has come into the city, but she has a sort of mistrust of human nature by the end - something you see in children growing up…. Sasha’s not quite the girl she was at the beginning; there is a sort of ruthlessness about her."

(Crosscut, 3 October 2013)

Administrator's note: Although it is implicit in the text that Sasha and Val's relationship is not a sexual one, the nature of the relationship is occasionally questioned. Here Alan clarifies the nature of the relationship.
"They don’t sleep together; he [Val] never asks for sex from her [Sasha]. So, she is able to kid herself it’s just friendship. Although it is undoubtedly a sexual friendship. Right at the very end he just holds her for a second. And that’s the only time he touches her. It allows her the dignity of having a relationship where she doesn’t feel she's selling herself short for it. She’s giving him companionship, she’s giving him friendship, but she’s not doing anything else. But they both know that... that what she does give him is an awful lot of sex in that she dresses up in fantastic clothes, swans around the room for him and behaves like some sort of prancing model, you know. She’s happy to wear the clothes he wants her to wear. It’s a strange relationship. But it’s not an uncommon one, I suspect."
(A Guide Tour Through Ayckbourn Country - second edition, Albert-Reiner Glaap)

Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn