Absurd Person Singular
by Alan Ayckbourn
July 30-31, August 1-2, 5-9 2003
The Boal Barn Playhouse
|Scenic Designer||Brandon Phillips|
|Costume Designer||Edna M. Immel|
|Technical Director||Steve McGuire|
|Lighting Designer||Chuck Otto|
|Stage Manager||Laura Shannon|
|Apprentice Coordinator||William C. Mulberger|
About the Show
Shakespearean and Restoration comedies often end with a dance signifying harmony. Couples are happily mated. All’s well. Absurd Person Singular also ends with a dance. There the similarity stops. There is no harmony, no happy couples. All is not well.
The play takes place on three successive Christmas Eves in the kitchens of three couples. There is a fourth off-stage couple and an off-stage dog. None are particularly pleasant, not even the dog. Sidney is an opportunistic, up-and-coming entrepreneur; Jane, his mousy wife, has a cleaning fetish. Geoffrey, an architect, is a womanizer; his wife, Eva, pops pills. Ronald, a banker, is ineffectual as a husband; Marion, his wife, is patronizing and an alcoholic. Act One, a ghastly cocktail party, is farcical, as Jane, the hostess finds herself in a pelting rainstorm, locked out of her own kitchen. The comedy turns black in Act Two as Eva tries to kill herself while the guests at the party watch on oblivious to her plight, so wrapped up are they in their own agendas. We, however, are aware. The scene is uproariously funny, but we feel uncomfortable laughing. Act Three is chilling and not just because the furnace broke and everyone is freezing. Sidney now lords it over the others who once looked down on him. In a “mounting exhortation bordering on the hysterical”, he orders all to dance. And dance they do, like puppets pulled by Sidney’s strings.
The play depicts relations between the sexes. Ayckbourn is critical of husbands because of the way they treat their wives. He is especially hard on Sidney who sees people, Jane included, only for what they can do for him. He is a dangerous man to offend because he does “frightfully well”. He is the new man, the new Brit, and Ayckbourn does not like what he sees.
Comedy is a mirror held up to human nature. We laugh at what we see on stage. But if we feel unsettled as we laugh, it is because when we look into that mirror we see ourselves.
Richard Gidez for SCCT
(in order of appearance)
|Jane Hopcroft||Lisa Wiedemer|
|Sidney Hopcroft||Gary Cramer|
|Ronald Brewster-Wright||Barry Hutzell|
|Marion Brewster-Wright||Martha Traverse|
|Eva Jackson||Caitlin Osborne|
|Geoffrey Jackson||Jason Zanitsch|
|Dick and Lottie||Voices Offstage|