Absurd Person Singular, Minerva Theatre, Chichester, until September 8, call 01243 781312 (From The Argus)
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Absurd Person Singular, Minerva Theatre, Chichester, until September 8, call 01243 781312
The second piece in Alan Ayckbourn’s Chichester double bill is a revival of his most successful play written 40 years ago and this brilliant production demonstrates why.
A masterpiece of construction and slick comic timing, it displays the playwright’s knack of exposing the emotions and frailties beneath his characters’ lives while simultaneously the audience laughs wildly at their comic antics.
The action is played in the round – an interesting departure for the Minerva that works well – and takes place on three consecutive Christmases in the respective kitchens of three couples.
Jane and Sidney are the social outsiders trying to ingratiate themselves with their bank manager and his wife, Ronald and Marion, and successful architect Geoffrey and his depressive wife Eva. The play has a chilling climax when the social roles are reversed.
The play uses the six actors who perform in Surprises, the other Ayckbourn play, and there is not a dud performance. They are an example of ensemble playing at its best, yet each has their moments to stand out.
Laura Doddington’s Jane is an insecure creature who hides behind her cleaning compulsion while Ben Porter’s Sidney is figure of inane joviality that hides a bullying streak. Together they produce some wonderful comedy.
Other gems come from Sarah Parks as the snobbish Marion with a drink problem and Aysha Antoine with the far from easy part of downbeat Eva. Her work in the second act requires her to remain mute, forever writing suicide notes and making hilarious attempts that keep getting thwarted.