I’m getting this question nearly every day. I need to answer it. Why has Oberon Books’ publisher suddenly written a play?
It isn’t sudden. Several of my plays were produced before I founded Oberon in 1986. The Gate, Not the RSC Festival, Old Red Lion, King’s Head, Cockpit and Edinburgh.
I thought I’d given it up, but I’m still writing plays in my head. It’s difficult to get them down on paper when you’re still working full-time. But I can’t not bother. I don’t know how long I’ve got left on the planet, but I don’t want to go with unborn plays inside me. I’m sure we all feel the same way about things left undone.
Ivy is based on a true comical-but-sad story of an old waitress who lived and worked in a seaside hotel near Blackpool in the Fifties, where I worked my holidays. She wouldn’t leave because she was still waiting for her lover, a former head waiter, to come back after more than 30 years and marry her. Joan is an invention; after a trip to Venice I was profoundly struck by the great art explosion in Europe, which seems to have been of little help to humanity in a cruel world.
Ivy & Joan with Lynne Miller and Jack Klaff, directed by Anthony Biggs opens at the Jermyn Street Theatre on 6 January 2015.