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Knutsford Little Theatre celebrates playwright’s Golden Jubilee
Knutsford Little Theatre celebrates Alan Ayckbourn’s 50th anniversary year by presenting one of the playwright’s most popular plays, ‘Absurd Person Singular’.
First produced in 1972, this play is set over three successive Christmas celebrations in the kitchens of three couples: The ambitious Sidney Hopcroft and his submissive wife Jane, architect and adulterer Geoffrey Turner and his depressed wife, Eva and banker Ronald Brewster-Wright and his wife Marion.
‘Last’ Christmas is set at Sidney’s house. He hopes to persuade the others to invest in his work – although both Geoffrey and Roland are obviously dismissive of the man and dislike him.
‘This’ Christmas is spent at Geoffrey and Eva’s flat where chaos and an aggressive dog reign supreme. ‘Next’ Christmas is at Roland and Marion’s mansion, and it is here that we find just how much the couples have changed over the years.
‘Absurd Person Singular’ is the play that Ayckbourn credits as being the first of his “off-stage plays”. It was originally set in the living rooms of the various couples, but half-way through writing the play, he realised the off-stage action was far more interesting than on-stage, hence the change of locale to the kitchen. This also had the advantage of removing the physical presence of Dick and Lottie Potter from the play. These monstrous creations are now heard, if not seen, yet remain hugely memorable comic creations.
Originally staged, like all of Ayckbourn’s plays, in Scarborough, the play soon transferred to London and this is where its reputation was firmly cemented. The London production saw Richard Briers return to an Ayckbourn play after his appearance in the West End production of ‘Relatively Speaking’, alongside Sheila Hancock. The play was an extraordinary success and transferred to the Vaudeville Theatre in 1974. In that same year, Eric Thompson took the play to Broadway and directed it with an American cast where it ran for 591 performances.
Absurd Person Singular has been revived twice. First in 1989 when it went on a national tour following another run in the West End, and again in 2007 starring Jane Horrocks and John Gordon Sinclair. The play remains one of Alan’s most popular works and comes from the period of Alan’s writing career when he can safely be said to have created five classics of 20th century British theatre in a row with this, The Norman Conquests trilogy and Absent Friends.
The play runs at Knutsford Little Theatre from June 3rd to 6th and tickets priced £6 may be reserved by calling 01565 873515