Former EastEnders star and winner of Strictly Come Dancing Kara Tointon is to star in a new production of Alan Ayckbourn’s Absent Friends in the new year.
The comedy of manners, which also stars Reece Shearsmith, Katherine Parkinson, Elizabeth Berrington, Steffan Rhodri and David Armand, will run at the Harold Pinter theatre from 26 January until 14 April.
Ayckbourn’s tale of a friendly gathering meant to cheer the spirits of Colin, who has lost his fiancée, but which actually dissolves into jealousy, infidelity and barely concealed loathing, marks Tointon’s first return to the West End since starring in Pygmalion earlier this year.
In Pygmalion she starred opposite Rupert Everett, while in Absent Friends she stars with two of the British actor’s co-stars from the St Trinian’s films, comedian Armand and IT Crowd star Parkinson, who starred in Ayckbourn’s Season’s Greetings at the National Theatre last Christmas.
Sheersmith, though fast becoming a West End regular in productions including Betty Blue Eyes, As You Like It and Ghost Stories, is still best known for his macabre TV comedies The League Of Gentlemen and Psychoville. Rhodri too, though he can currently be seen in The Kitchen Sink at the Bush theatre, is best known for his TV comedy work, playing Dave Coaches in Gavin And Stacey.
Rhodri’s others stage credits include the Hampstead theatre revival of Abigail’s Party, in which he starred opposite Berrington, whose most recent TV appearance came playing food technology teacher Ruby Fry in Waterloo Road.
Absent Friends is directed by Jeremy Herrin, whose production of Joe Penhall’s latest play Haunted Child opened at the Royal Court last night, and who also directs the show currently playing at the Harold Pinter theatre, Death And The Maiden, which runs until the end of the month.