Mr Whatnot: In Brief

Key Facts relating to Alan Ayckbourn's Mr Whatnot.
  • Mr Whatnot premiered at the Victoria Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent, on 12 November 1963. It was Alan Ayckbourn's sixth play.
  • It is one of only four full-length plays by Alan Ayckbourn which have not received their world premiere in Scarborough. The others being Christmas V Mastermind (1962), Jeeves (1975) and A Small Family Business (1987).
  • The play was in part inspired by Alan Ayckbourn's love of film, particularly the work of the director René Clair and the actor Buster Keaton.
  • It was the first Ayckbourn play to have a West End transfer, opening at the New Arts Theatre on 6 August 1964.
  • The popular comedian Ronnie Barker starred in the London production as Lord Slingsby Craddock and based his television creation Lord Rustless on the character (and for which Alan Ayckbourn wrote sketches under a pseudonym for the TV show Hark At Barker).
  • This production was also the shortest run of any Ayckbourn play in the West End, closing on 22 August 1964; little more than two weeks after it opened.
  • In 1968, Alan Ayckbourn directed an amateur production of the play for Leeds Art Theatre. It starred a young actor named Bob Peck, who would go on to find fame on stage and screen notably in the television series Edge Of Darkness and the film Jurassic Park.
  • It was the first play to be staged at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough, when Alan moved the company to its new home from the Library Theatre in 1976.
  • Mr Whatnot (or more accurately, the character Mint - although he is named only in the programme) was also the final character to appear on the stage of the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round in 1996. At the final performance at the venue before the company moved to the Stephen Joseph Theatre, the actor Malcolm Hebden reprised his role from 1976, appeared on stage following the night's performance and speeches before 'turning off' the lights.
  • Mr Whatnot was published by Samuel French in 1992. It is the earliest of Alan Ayckbourn's plays to have been published and is also the earliest Ayckbourn play available to produce.
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