facebook play-alt chevron-thin-right chevron-thin-left cancel location info chevron-thin-down star-full help-with-circle calendar images mail whatsapp directions_car directions_bike train directions_walk directions_bus close spinner11

Absurd Person Singular

First Published 17 April 2008, Last Updated 18 April 2008

With enough comings and goings through doors to give even Boeing Boeing a run for its money, Alan Ayckbourn’s Absurd Person Singular begins as a farce centred on a people-pleasing suburban couple who throw a Christmas Eve party. At the end of the three acts the playwright has delved beneath the farcical façade to dissect the dark emotional make-up of three couples. Caroline Bishop was at the first night at the Garrick.

They say Christmas is one of the most stressful times of year, spiralling some people into depression and illness through a combination of too much drink, food and being stuck in the same room as your loved ones for far too long. Absurd Person Singular does nothing to dispel this theory, such are the conflicting emotional stresses and strains of this comedy’s six characters.

Sidney and Jane (David Bamber and Jane Horrocks) are the first couple to throw a Christmas Eve party, a party which, in true farcical style, does not go as smoothly as they hope. Sidney is a wiry, moustachioed small-time businessman and emotional bully, whose aim for the party is to network his way up the greasy pole. His wife, Jane, is highly strung to the point of snapping, obsessed with cleaning and so eager to impress her invited guests that she winds herself into a state of near-hyperventilation.

Enter the reluctant guests: posh neighbours Ronald and Marion (David Horovitch and Jenny Seagrove) – him a pompous dinosaur and her an unapologetic snob who covers her disdain for Sidney and Jane’s humble abode with a thick layer of insincerity – and hippy couple Eva and Geoffrey (Lia Williams and John Gordon Sinclair), whose marital problems seep out right from the start.

The farcical interaction between these six characters in the first act sets up the next two, played out on successive Christmas Eves, first at Eva and Geoffrey’s house, then at Ronald and Marion’s place, each year revealing a new, darker twist in the couples’ relationships, simmering under the comedy. The action takes place in each kitchen, which acts as a retreat for the characters from the unseen goings-on in the sitting room, involving a fourth couple whom we never see, and a rather large dog.

Michael Pavelka’s impressively detailed sets and Tara Cole’s early 1970s costumes all help to reinforce the marked differences between the couples, which become more extreme as the play goes on. But, though they may not like each other much, the unhappiness that each character increasingly reveals brings them together in a reluctant, mutually-dependant friendship. em>CB


Sign up

Related articles

If you click through to seat selection (where you'll see either best available or a seating plan), you will be seeing the most up-to-date prices. If this differs from what we've written on the calendar, please bear with us, as those prices will update soon.

We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.

While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.