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Absurd Person Singular
29th June 2021 - 3rd July 2021
ABSURD PERSON SINGULAR BY ALAN AYCKBOURN
Directed by Michael Cabot
Set Design by Simon Scullion
Lighting Design by Andy Grange
Costume Design by Kate Lyons
Three married couples. Three kitchens. Three Christmas parties.
Sidney Hopcroft, a small-time tradesman, persuades wife Jane to throw a party hoping to find favour with a bank manager and local architect. As celebrations begin, 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 has begun to rise and roles are increasingly reversed as the cracks in the other couples’ marriages begin to show.
Alan Ayckbourn’s comic masterpiece of social climbing in 1970s suburbia fuses a potent mix of farce and black comedy.
‘A master of comic ingenuity.’ The Guardian
Running time: approx. 2 hours 20 minutes, including interval.
This event was originally due to take place in May and September 2020. We have contacted all existing ticketholders to either transfer or refund tickets. If you have a query please call the box office on 01684 892277 (Mon-sat, 9.30am-5.30pm).
Performances taking place before July 19th will be sold at half capacity in line with Government guidelines. Thereafter, performances may initially be sold at half capacity in case restrictions remain, although capacities may increase if not. Prevailing Government guidance on face coverings and distancing will be observed and enhanced cleaning routines will remain in place.
Please read our Covid-19 Safety Guidelines prior to booking.
Production photos by Sheila Burnett
HUGE congratulations to everyone at Malvern Theatres - front of house, bar, stage crew - but particularly to the cast of Absurd Person Singular which we saw last night. They gave a doggedly (see what I did there?!) determined, professional and hugely enjoyable rendition of this piece in VERY difficult conditions. Regrettably, even with social distancing, the turnout was small and inevitably the audience response muffled by masks. It's so difficult to keep at the top of your game when you can't fully engage with your audience but they pulled out all the stops and rest assured we DID enjoy it. Well done to you all. Good luck with the rest of the tour and hopefully we'll see you all back on stage when, mask free, you can really feel the appreciation that we all very much feel for you and everyone bringing live theatre back to into our lives. THANK YOU
Surprised that some of the lines had not been edited. The architect’s comment about dropping things on the floor was about ‘upskirting’. Can’t decide if I was more shocked it was included or that many of the audience laughed.
Like wise laughing about alcoholism and suicide. Definitely of it’s time. The acting was very good but the play is definitely of it’s time. Most of those laughing were in their later years.
Choice Radio Worcester
The moment you enter the auditorium, you know exactly where you are, so effective is the set. The bright orange Hygena kitchen units, the garish large-patterned wallpaper... it can only be the Seventies. And indeed it is the era for Alan Ayckbourne's classic comedy Absurd Person Singular where three couples of obviously different social standing meet up for a pre-Christmas drink.
Having guests round can be stressful at the best of times and Sidney and Jane Hopcroft (Paul Sandys and Felicity Houlbrooke) go to ludicrous lengths to ensure that everything is perfect as they are social climbers and out to impress. Except that, of course, everything isn't perfect. Last-minute drink spills, no tonic water (gasp!), no bottle opener, accidentally still wearing slippers - the list goes on and things become even more hilarious as the evening progresses with poor Jane gettings locked out of her own house in the rain. In the company they are keeping here - the Brewster-Wrights (Graham O'Mara and Rosanna Miles) with their double-barrelled name and an attitude to suit and the apparently mismatched couple Eva and Geoffrey Jackson (Helen Keeley and John Dorney), these two are truly fish out of water.
And yet after the interval, when the location moves to the Jacksons' kitchen on a subsequent Christmas Eve, they appear the relatively "normal" couple (though still frantically and innocently trying to please) as the Jacksons deal with their lack of matrimonial bliss and Eva's thwarted attempts to end it all. This is where you momentarily step back and ask yourself whether you should really be laughing... but then you can't stop yourself either.
By the third kitchen location, the Hopcrafts are now basically shunned pariahs, have bettered themselves compared to the others, and their attempts to join the party form a truly hilarious climax to the comedy as all the participants get involved in a game of forfeits.
The play itself isn't a look back at the 1970's. Indeed, it was first performed in 1972 and can therefore be seen as a reflection of the different levels of society at the time, money and ambition being the prime mechanisms of moving from one to another - in both directions - and the cast here are obviously enjoying bringing it to a 21st century audience, some of whom will no doubt remember, not necessarily with affection, exactly the type of scenes depicted.
This is a really enjoyable production from London Classic Theatre for anyone who loves the type of class comedy which the Brits do so well with such a deep vein of social history to explore, Ayckbourne created a comedy which not just reflects the time it was written but also the current day. But at least nowadays the wallpaper has changed!
Trelawney of the Wells
Alan Ayckbourn's mix of out-and-out comedy alongside discomfiting darkness is very difficult to get right. Unfortunately, this production opts for a very broad approach to the former, meaning the darker moments lose their power. The actors do their best with this skewed vision of the play, but ultimately lose the battle. A shame, as it was a great pleasure to be back in the theatre.
Lovely to be back watching a live performance after all the lockdowns. It was great fun. Well done to all