Absent Friends

By Alan Ayckbourn

Synopsis:

“Absent Friends is a play for a small intimate theatre where one can hear the actors breathing and the silences ticking away.” Alan Ayckbourn Scarborough 1976

As Absent Friends opens, a dysfunctional group have been brought together for a tea party: Paul, a successful business man used to getting his own way; Diana his ever-vigilant and suspicious wife; John, father to baby Wayne, aware that Paul’s eyes, and more, have strayed towards his monosyllabic wife, Evelyn; and finally, friend Marge, blissfully unaware of the tensions around her.

The tea party has been organised by Di in an attempt to cheer up long-time friend Colin whose fiancée has just drowned. But Colin doesn’t need cheering up, he is happy, optimistic and delighted to see his old friends, whilst they all quickly realise that it is they who are drowning - in frustrated lives, vanished dreams, provincial secrets and middle-aged angst.

Absent Friends is Ayckbourn at his very best: the hilarious moments on stage are juxtaposed with insightful and heart-wrenching home truths, with the minutiae of suburbia providing the realistic background. A stellar cast, under the direction of Ann Ellison, brings the play to sparkling life, reminding us all of just why Ayckbourn is one of Britain’s greatest living playwrights.

Absent Friends
This show was performed at The Mission Theatre, Bath in September 2017.

Director/s | Cast:

Ann Ellison

Ann Ellison

Director

Georgi Bassil

Georgi Bassil

Evelyn

Annabel Chater

Annabel Chater

Marg

Caroline Groom

Caroline Groom

Diana

Brian Hudd

Brian Hudd

Paul

Andrew Ellison

Andrew Ellison

Colin

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens

John

Review/s of Absent Friends:

Review 1: It is a perfect production where the cast never strike a wrong note.

Although written in 1974, this production feels quite contemporary. Perhaps bittersweet domestic dysfunction is always with us and that human condition is one which Ayckbourn has always been able to nail. Colin’s fiancee has drowned recently so his friends rally round and invite him to a tea party, thinking to cheer him up. However, the boot is really on the other foot; it's their lives that are…click here to read the whole review.

By Philip Horton, Listomania

Review 2: This Ayckbourn classic is honed to perfection

Written in 1974 this razor sharp comedy hits home in all the right places. The excellent company relish each barb and silence with great control and the result is a triumphant start to the autumn season for Next Stage Theatre Company. Under the direction of Ann Ellison this Ayckbourn classic is honed to perfection. Set in real time and in one place, a rare treat for Ayckbourn scripts, we meet Diana,…click here to read the whole review.

By Petra Schofield

Show and rehearsal photographs: