During the 1920s James Joyce was forced to watch the inexorable slide into madness of his adored daughter Lucia. Her increasing disorientation paralleled his rise to fame - from Ulysses to Finnegans Wake.
This private tragedy embraced some of the great names of 20thC letters: the unrequited passion of Lucia's life was her father's acolyte Sam Beckett, amongst her many lovers Alexander Calder: Zelda Fitzgerald was her fantasy-ideal whom Lucia met when Hemingway introduced Scott Fitzgerald to Joyce in a restaurant one evening.
The irony of coincidence is even further compounded by the fact that Lucia & Zelda were ultimately both admitted to the same asylum in Switzerland.
But the central conflict in the play is between Joyce and the psychiatrist CG Jung. Joyce was intensely hostile to psycho-analysis and lost no opportunity to ridicule it. Having been deeply offended by a foreword Jung wrote for Ulysses, Joyce was finally driven in desperation to seek help from Jung himself - yet still refused to accept the insights Jung offered.
Lucia was permanently hospitalized from 1933 onwards and died in St Matthews Northampton in 1981. Every week she had received a gift of The Illustrated London News from Sam Beckett.
The Watcher in the Rain is conceived to work with 6 actors playing all 20+ parts. Tho the various characters are different the roles which each actor plays are essentially homogenous so the audience is clearly able to follow the relationships as they develop. It would be fatal if the focus of the play were allowed to become a parade of well-known characters. For this reason the language is meant only to be suggestive, not imitative of characters' writing, except at a certain specific points.