This Is Where We Came In: Character Notes by Alan AyckbournIt is unusual for Alan Ayckbourn to write notes about his characters, but there exists in archive correspondence regarding the character of Great Aunt Repetitus from This Is Where We Came In. This offer's Alan's insight into the leader of the Storytellers.
Great Aunt Repetitus
I'd think of her as a James Bond villain crossed with 1984's Big Brother. Both the sub-villain Uncles are fearful of her and no wonder. She's 180 years old and appears to see right into their minds. She's scratchy, impatient and bad tempered. She loathes young people, especially poor Nell towards whom she is especially vindictive. Her favourite is undoubtedly Bethany for whom she creates parts that are clearly part autobiographical.
As for the Players, they're all in fear and trembling of her. Her ability to write and re-write their lives at will is a frightening one to have. At any moment just on a whim she could write any one of them out of the story, i.e cause them never to have existed and with no memory of their existence.
Within the style of the piece you'll need to develop a playing style which, whilst being simple and just short of two dimensional remains totally truthful to itself. Credibility is everything when playing a villain, any villain. And the more implausible and far fetched the villain, the more seemingly 'real' they must be. If we don't believe she could and probably would destroy them all, then the play falls to the ground and, what's more, so does most of the comedy.
For it is her dangerousness that drives all of that. The others need to fear her. So try and scare the hell out of them all. First Nell and then Fred by standing up to her are being incredibly brave.
So be simple and truthful and don't forget to explore her quieter registers, vocally. It's far more dangerous (and scary) than bluster and shouting. Leave that to the Uncles. Then on the rare occasions when she needs to raise her voice, how effective!
Physically she is apparently on her last legs but mentally she's as sharp as a razor and twice as dangerous. A tarantula of a woman.
Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn. Please do not reproduce without permission of Alan Ayckbourn.