Christmas V Mastermind: Frequently Asked Questions

Alan Ayckbourn's Archivist Simon Murgatroyd answers some of the most frequently asked questions about Alan Ayckbourn's The Square Cat.

Why isn't Christmas V Mastermind available to be performed? / Why hasn't Christmas V Mastermind been published?
Alan Ayckbourn considers his earliest plays to be his first steps as a playwright when he was learning his craft. As a result, he doesn't feel they particularly reflect the quality or standard of writing he would later achieve and do not stand up particularly well due to his inexperience as a writer. As a result, he has never allowed them to be performed again and has not published the plays.

Where can I read the play for research purposes?
An original manuscript for Christmas V Mastermind is held in the Lord Chamberlain's Collection at the British Library.

Christmas V Mastermind is referred to by other versions of the title in books about the playwright, what is the correct title?
Christmas V Mastermind is the correct title. It is used on the original manuscript and on the programme for the original production; anything else is wrong. The most common mistakes are Xmas V Mastermind and Christmas Versus (or Vs) Mastermind, but as far as the playwright is concerned the play has never been anything but Christmas V Mastermind.

One of the characters is referred to as the Crimson Gollywog, is this a mis-spelling?
The character is referred to throughout both the script and the programme for the original production as the Crimson Gollywog, rather than the accepted spelling of Golliwog. It is worth noting that, of course, since writing the play, the term now presents difficulties. However, within the context of the play and when it was written, the name was derived from the popular children's toy of the time and is obviously also a play on words; golliwogs are black dolls, for them to be crimson would not make them golliwogs. It should also be emphasised that other than the name, there is nothing else to relate the character to a golliwog; the actor neither blacked up nor wore the traditional outfit of the toys, instead spending most of the play either in disguise or a velvet dressing gown.

All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd.