Way Upstream: Quotes by Other People

This page includes quotes about the play Way Upstream 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.

"Way Upstream is a parable partly about political extremism and partly about humanity's search for its lost innocence."
(Paul Allen, Royal & Derngate's Ayckbourn At 70 souvenir programme)

"Rather than an analysis of [the political] right and left, therefore, Way Upstream is an allegory dealing with good and evil, a subject glancingly and satirically referred to in Suburban Strains (the older teacher, Miss Dent, says she knows evil when she sees it)."
(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)


"Clearly the cabin-cruiser and its crew are a metaphor for modern England. Vince represents fascism, Fleur aristocratic decadence, Keith capitalist arrogance, June sensuous passivity and Alistair and Emma all the quiet, moderate, reasonable people whose voices scarcely ever get heard. Ayckbourn himself does nothing to dispel this interpretation with talk of 'the final collapse of civilisation as we know it' and Alistair himself conceding that they will have to make the hazardous journey back through enemy territory even though it is filled with unreasonable people"
(Michael Billington: Alan Ayckbourn, 1990, Palgrave)

"The play [
Way Upstream] uses the boat as a metaphor for an early-80s England in which the voices of moderation and reason were being drowned out by an ugly extremism."
(Michael Billington, The Guardian, 25 May 2012)

"Vince and Fleur are portraits of a different kind. Vince wants his own way and is determined to seize the power to realise it, using any manipulative means whatsoever. Fleur is an accomplice rich enough to sidestep social norms and incites. Both abuse hospitality, good nature and compromise to serve their own ends. Ayckbourn introduces them into a situation ripe for mutiny with its own implicit power vacuum."
(Michael Holt: Alan Ayckbourn, 1999, Northcote House)

"Before turning back, just beyond Armageddon, at the conclusion of the play, the contemporary Adam and Eve [Alistair and Emma] discover not the gone-to-seed garden of the other plays but a new Eden at the river's source. They shed their clothes to be cleansed in the waters of the Orb, fulfilling at last Alistair's dream of renewal that he could never express to Emma, hardly hope to share with her. No longer fearful of the water, Emma knows that Alistair will keep her afloat, safe from harm. Having earlier rejected Fleur's advances, Alistair, now captain of his destiny, can embrace Emma, liberated from her fears, as his first mate his only mate."
(Albert E Kalson: Laughter In The Dark, 1991, Associated Universities Press)

All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd.