Ron & Julie: Background

Ron & Julie is classified as one of Alan Ayckbourn's Grey Plays. These are plays which are acknowledged miscellaneous minor pieces by Alan Ayckbourn, which have received limited performance but have never been published, are not available for production and are not included in the official canon of Ayckbourn plays.

Ron & Julie is something of an oddity in Alan Ayckbourn's playwriting career. It was commissioned by the National Theatre in 1991 to showcase the sound, light and special effects departments work at the NT for visiting students. As such, it is a piece designed solely to take advantage of the huge range of opportunities available at the National at this specific period of time to highlight the work of these departments.

The extensive practical and special effects prop list as well as the wide range of lighting and sound effects required means it would only really have been capable of being performed in a venue with such extensive resources as the National Theatre. It is also very much of its time due to its reliance on technology which has changed so much since 1991 (although a production in 2012 proved the play can be adapted successfully to incorporate modern technology).

The extended sketch is a love triangle between Ron, a sound technician, and Julie, a lighting technician. Like warring families, their love across departments is a forbidden one. Into this comes the suave and impressive special effects technician Raymond. In a bid to capture Julie's heart, the men showcase their respective skills in increasingly extravagant ways. This leads to a climatic standoff when Julie slips from her talloscope ladder and Ron must conquer his fear of heights to save the girl in a spectacular and bloody denouement as Raymond tries to thwart him.

The play has only been performed twice professionally, initially as part of a showcase for students at the National Theatre in 1991. It was later produced by the Tron Theatre in Glasgow in March 2013 as part of an evening called
Scenes Unseen focusing on rarely seen short works by several major playwrights.

An amateur performance also took place in June 2012 when it was presented as part of the
Ayckbourn Shorts event at the University Of York, directed by Tom Wright and showcasing some of the more obscure play-texts in the Ayckbourn Archive which is held in the Borthwick Institute for Archives at the university.

Ron & Julie is not available for production.

Article by Simon Murgatroyd. Copyright: Haydonning Ltd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.