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Alan Ayckbourn - Man of the Moment (1988)
Man Of The Moment (1992)
Director: Gordon House
Company: BBC Radio
Transmission date: 10/05/1992
Douglas Beechey: Jon Strickland
Vic Parks: Peter Vaughan
Jill Rillington: Lia Williams
Trudy Parks: Alice Arnold
Kenny Collins: Adam Godley
Sharon Giffin: Buffy Davis
Ruy: Nicholas Marchine
Ashley Barnes: Neil Roberts
Vic Parks is the man of the moment; a celebrity criminal who having spent nine years in jail for a botched bank robbery, has written his autobiography and is now a bona fide television celebrity. Now living in a villa, complete with swimming pool, in Spain, he has agreed to appear on the TV show Their Paths Crossed. The host Jill Rillington intends to bring together, 17 years on, Vic with Douglas Beechey – the unassuming clerk who foiled the robbery.
Jill hopes to exploit the irony that although Douglas had a brief 15 minutes of fame and married his true love – incidentally maimed during the raid – the man who has found true success and celebrity is the villain.
As one of Alan Ayckbourn’s most unusual and memorable stage directions, what better way to introduce one of the most fascinating characters in the Ayckbourn play canon? Vic Parks swims on stage and dominates Man Of The Moment with his appealing charisma and barely-contained violence. As one of Alan’s most memorable creations, he is the epitome of evil in a play which directly tackles issues of good and evil, while taking a satirical swipe at our obsession with the facile world of television and celebrity.
Man Of The Moment is one of the few plays where Alan can definitively state what his inspiration for the play was. While working at the National Theatre, London, he would pass the flower stall run by Buster Edwards, a notorious criminal who had been part of the Great Train Robbery. At the same time, his life was being fictionalised in the movie Buster, starring Phil Collins; posters of which were rife in the city. Alan was intrigued how the wrong man had become a celebrity. Here was a criminal being portrayed on the big screen, while no-one cared – or probably even remembered – the train driver who had died as a result of the robbery, Jack Mills.
Here was the inspiration for Man Of The Moment, which also fulfilled Alan’s desire to tackle the issue of good and evil and to see whether he could write two convincing and equally interesting characters who epitomised both sides of the moral balance.
The play is also about Alan’s scepticism of the media and the direction television is going. It deals with how the media manipulates its audiences and how certain people can manipulate the media or allow themselves to be shaped by the media to create often undeserved fame and celebrity.
Copyright: Simon Murgatroyd 2006
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