Ayckbourn favourite at Bath

ALAN Ayckbourn is Britain’s most prolific playwright, but some of his plays have now achieved almost classic status, and are regularly revived to the delight of his myriad fans. The much-loved Absurd Person Singular is on a new UK tour and will be coming to the Theatre Royal Bath from Tuesday 31st August to Saturday 4th September.

The new production by London Classic Theatre, directed by Michael Cabot, is touring to 15 venues as part of the theatre company’s 20th anniversary celebrations.

Three married couples, three kitchens, three raucous 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 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 has begun to rise and roles are increasingly reversed as the cracks in the other couples’ marriages begin to show.

Alan Ayckbourn’s comic tour-de-force about social climbing in 1970s suburbia fuses a potent mix of farce and black comedy. Absurd Person Singular premièred in 1972 and won the Evening Standard Award for Best Comedy in the West End. It broke Broadway records in 1976 as the longest running comedy by a British playwright at the time and remains Ayckbourn’s most commercially successful Broadway play.

Michael Cabot says: “Great writing is timeless. The play comes from the early 70s, so it’s almost 50 years since it was first produced, but the themes and characters are still incredibly fresh for an audience today. It’s about class and social mobility, making the right impression and keeping up appearances. It treads a beautiful line between comedy and tragedy, and there is no better playwright to exploit this to its full potential.”

The cast is Paul Sandys as Sidney Hopcroft, Felicity Houlbrooke as Jane Hopcroft, John Dorney as Geoffrey Jackson, Helen Keeley as Eva Jackson, Rosanna Miles as Marion Brewster-Wright and Graham O’Mara as Ronald Brewster-Wright.

Pictured: Paul Sandys as Sidney Hopcroft and Felicity Houlbrooke as Jane Hopcroft; Rosanna Miles as Marion Brewster-Wright, Graham O’Mara as Ronald Brewster-Wright and Helen Keeley as Eva Jackson. Photographs by Sheila Burnett