"Timeless comedy, or locked in a 1970s time-cell? Universal observation of human nature, or stereotypes? Alan Ayckbourn remains our finest living playwright, certainly our most prolific, and any scepticism is close to heresy. This new revival from London Classic Theatre is faithful to the original, and the observation is sharp and amusing. The settings, characters and relationships are well-remembered, and the acting is impeccable. The action, on three successive Christmas Eves, moves from home to home of the three couples, as their fabric of normality frays ever more destructively at the edges. Simon Scullion’s design is technically excellent and highly effective, with swivelling reversible doors and panels transforming the set from one kitchen to the next. Sidney Hopcroft, ambitious small businessman, is entertaining his bank manager and a high-performing architect - all three with their spouses, of course. Paul Sandys’ Sidney Hopcroft recovers from a disastrous night - largely sabotaged by neurotic wife Jane (the excellent Felicity Houlbrooke) - to climb that social ladder. By Act Two, social veneers are cracking: John Dorney’s womanising chauvinist Geoffrey Jackson is on the point of divorce and his wife Eva - a brilliant, alarmingly fragile Helen Keeley - is on the point of suicide. The comedy is at its blackest and there is real tension. And then the denouement: a year on, Eva has recovered admirably but the third couple are gently crumbling. It is the turn of hapless bank manager Ronald Brewster-Wright and his sozzled spouse Marion (Graham O’Mara and Rosanna Miles) to implode, while the Hopcrofts pull the strings like puppet-masters. Splendid farce, with creasingly funny moments, and just a bit larger than life. An accomplished, enjoyable night of theatre - and no harm in a dash of nostalgia. There is still life in those Ayckbourn classics."
Kevin Anderson - Eastbourne Herald

Absurd Person Singular

Playwright: Alan Ayckbourn
Directed by Michael Cabot
Designed by Simon Scullion
Lighting by Andy Grange
Costume Designer: Kate Lyons
Costume Supervisor: Ester Mangas Fernandez
Production Managers: Jenny Wheeler & Andy Grange
Photography: Sheila Burnett

CAST: Paul Sandys, Felicity Houlbrooke, Helen Keeley, John Dorney, Graham O’Mara, Rosanna Miles.

Theatre Royal Bath, Oldham Coliseum, Cambridge Arts Theatre, New Vic Newcastle-under-Lyme, Devonshire Park Theatre Eastbourne, Theatre Royal Winchester, Derby Theatre, Theatr Clwyd, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich.

Sidney Hopcroft, a small-time tradesman, persuades wife Jane to throw a Christmas party hoping to find favour with a bank manager and local architect. As the celebrations get under way, class differences and naked ambition combine to hilarious effect as, one by one, the characters seek refuge in Jane’s kitchen.

Over the next two years, the Jacksons and Brewster-Wrights take turns to host festivities. But Sidney’s star is on the rise and roles are increasingly reversed as the cracks in the other couples’ marriages begin to show.

Alan Ayckbourn’s masterpiece of social climbing in 1970s suburbia fuses a potent mix of farce and black comedy to devastating effect.

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