Truth Will Out: History

Truth Will Out is a full-length play written by Alan Ayckbourn during 2019. It was intended to premiere at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, during summer 2020. However, with the worldwide disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the production was cancelled.
Behind The Scenes: Small Mercy
Truth Will Out was not the play Alan originally wrote for the summer 2020 season at the Stephen Joseph Theatre. Alan originally wrote Small Mercy in 2019 with the intention it would run in repertory with a revival of Just Between Ourselves - both plays sharing the same-sized cast. The play was submitted to the SJT and initially approved. However, alterations to the script were later requested by the SJT, which led to two further drafts of the play. At which point, Alan realised the play was unlikely to satisfy the SJT and he wrote an alternative, Truth Will Out. This was then commissioned in place of Small Mercy.
Truth Will Out would have been Alan Ayckbourn's 84th full-length play - this is now regarded as Anno Domino - and was intended to run between 20 August and 3 October 2020 in repertory with a revival of his classic 1976 play, Just Between Ourselves.

However, when the Covid-19 pandemic swept the UK during 2020 and the country's theatres were ordered to close on 23 March 2020, both productions - along with the entire SJT summer season - were cancelled.

The play had already been announced to the public though in a major season launch event on 6 March 2023 at the SJT, which had seen Alan Ayckbourn discussing the play and tickets had gone on sale on 13 March to the general public.

With
Truth Will Out cancelled and the SJT closed, Alan Ayckbourn pulled a previously unproduced play written during 2018, Anno Domino, from the shelf, made slight alterations and produced it as an audio stream as a fund-raiser for the SJT. As a result, there was still an Ayckbourn world premiere in 2020, just not the one initially advertised.

Truth Will Out is a satire on family, relationships, politics and the state of the nation and was promoted by the SJT as: "Everyone has secrets. Certainly former shop steward George, his right-wing MP daughter Janet, investigative journalist Peggy, and senior civil servant Sefton, do. And all it’s going to take is one tech-savvy teenager with a mind of his own and time on his hands to bring their worlds tumbling down - and maybe everyone else’s along with them. A storm is brewing…."

The idea of a virus - albeit a technological one - bringing the world to its knees was obviously quite prescient and led Alan too suggest that, as a result of actual events, it had probably missed its moment and was unlikely to ever be produced. This was despite the fact he admitted he was fond of the play and quite proud of it. He felt the play encompassed a scale he had not attempted before, exponentially spreading out with each scene from a teenage boy's bedroom in the opening scene to the halls of power at Westminster in the final scene.

The play is a nine-hander - one of the largest casts for an Ayckbourn play in recent years.

It was presumed
Truth Will Out would never see the light of day and would go into the Ayckbourn Archive at the Borthwick Institute for Archives, where it would be available to read in the future. Rather surprisingly, when asked in 2022 for suggestions for a fund-raising weekend at the SJT, the playwright offered a rehearsed reading of Truth Will Out, finally giving the play a public airing. This rehearsed reading will take place on 17 September 2023 and tickets are now on sale.

This does not mean the play will become available to produce or be published, but as a result of being given a public performance,
Truth Will Out is now considered on of Alan Ayckbourn's 'grey plays'; works which have received limited performance but have never been published, are not available for production and are not included in the official canon of Ayckbourn plays.

Article by Simon Murgatroyd. Copyright: Haydonning Ltd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.