Saturday, 6 November 2010

Absent Friends Review

Absent Friends by Alan Ayckbourn

Not Waving But Drowning

Never one to begrudge an acknowledgement, TLT has to admit a four star review in the Evening Standard sent her and ever-loyal automotive companion along to the railway arches to see this 1974  play set in a suburban living room.  Directed by Ben De Wynter with suitably evocative design by Holly Best and lighting by Steve Miller,  the piece revolves around four male pals (one never seen)  who have known each other since their youth. Two of the men, along with three wives (one of the wives is married to he who is not seen) and one baby in tow are about to welcome to tea the only single man left in their coterie, Colin (Giles Fagan) after a long absence. A tragic drowning has robbed him of his fiancée and, by rights, he should be thoroughly miserable with the others, house-proud Di (Gillian McCafferty),  mother-hen Marge (Fiona Gordon), philandering Paul (Chas. Early), hyperactive John (Shaun Stone) and monosyllabic sophisticate Evelyn (Olivia Busby) counting their blessings at their married bliss.  But being Ayckbourn, things are much darker and slyer on this merry-go-round of coupling,  uncoupling,  shattered flying ducks and childhood dreams.  All the actors turn in thoroughly creditable performances and, though the pacing is sometimes awry and  occasional self-consciousness creeps in, it’s a very satisfying retro bitter-sweet entertainment.  An amber light to warm up a cold November evening.

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