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Haunting Julia

Alan Ayckbourn

20 - 28 September 2019

Juliet Hartnett

"It's the music. It's like a great cloud in front of the sun. It's blotting out her life."


Director's Notes

When I first read Haunting Julia I could not put it down. I have seen and directed plays by Alan Ayckbourn in the past but this one is very different. Yes, there are comic moments but this play deals with more serious themes than the usual thought-provoking comedy. There is grief after the loss of an only child and the tyranny of a great talent. Twelve years ago, Joe lost his only daughter, Julia. He is grieving but he is afraid that he contributed to her death. Why did she kill herself? Did he make her feel like a “freak in cotton wool”? What he wants is an explanation of her death, which will let him off the hook. Perhaps she was murdered? An underlying theme is the burden of creativity. Julia, a gifted musician, used to say that the music was like a great cloud in front of the sun, blotting out her life. She felt isolated. Perhaps the play is obliquely autobiographical. As a prolific writer, Alan Ayckbourn has maybe felt creative pressure himself. This is the background to an edge-of-your-seat cliff-hanger. It is an emotional roller-coaster. But is the play a psychological thriller, a murder mystery or a ghost story? What fascinates me is the play’s depth. On one level it is a thriller, perhaps a ghost story, on another it is a study of the effects of profound grief which leads to obsession and self-deception. Each character, Joe, Andy, the ex-boyfriend and Ken, the stranger, has a secret. No-one is telling the truth and at the heart of the play is a mystery which adds to the suspense. The play is beautifully balanced and crafted to create maximum tension, building to a shattering climax. If Ayckbourn is driven by his art, I am really glad he wrote this play. It is enthralling to work on and will be riveting to watch.

Audition

Audition Sat 11 May 2019 10:30am foyer

Julia - (Nineteen). She could be older but the voice must sound young. She is only heard but there will be recording involved. If the selected actress would like to be more involved with rehearsals, she could develop Julia’s character to provide background for the other actors.

Joe - (Sixties). Julia’s father, a blunt, successful North country busi­nessman who is still grieving for his lost child. He cannot believe Julia would kill herself. Now he has recently lost his wife of many years. Andy – (Thirties to forties). A happily married music teacher with a family. He is very fond of Joe. He is a practical down to earth man but he has a guilty secret.

Ken – (Fifties to late sixties). A pleasant, cheerful, unassuming man. He is a psychic and is sensitive to emotional atmosphere. He is not quite what he seems.