If I Were You: Frequently Asked Questions

Alan Ayckbourn's Archivist Simon Murgatroyd's answers some of the most frequently asked questions about Alan Ayckbourn's If I Were You. If you have a question about this or any other of Alan Ayckbourn's plays, you can contact the website via the Contact Us page.

What causes Jill and Mal to swap bodies in if I Were You?
It is not explained and is left deliberately ambiguous - the playwright feels it is up to the audience to come to their own conclusions. The play is open to interpretation, although the playwright has noted in correspondence that Jill's final words before the change 'Oh, God helps us all' could be interpreted as divine intervention; although the playwright has emphasised this is not a definitive interpretation. The only thing that can be said about the change with any certainty is it is not a dream as the climatic conversation between Jill and Mal shows.
Alan himself talked about the change in his introduction to the published edition of the play:

"Dramatically, dealing with the question of explaining how this state of affairs came about, I chose a course I had taken previously in earlier plays with inexplicable scientific phenomena (two women waking up in hospital with each other’s head - Body Language; mysterious portals in hotel rooms that induce time travel - Communicating Doors, and others) by ignoring what caused it altogether, leaving it to conjecture. The alternative of attempting to explain the impossible leading to endless pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo, really doesn’t appeal to me at all. My experience with children’s plays is they either accept that the prince has suddenly become invisible or they don’t."

All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd.