National Operatic &
We received a nomination for
Production Award for Best Play
for this production.
See awards, for more
information, including the full NODA
Review published in the Belper News
Alcoholism, pill-popping and mild electrocution
aren't the cheeriest of situations; but the Belper
Players used them to raise some laughs as they
performed Absurd Person Singular at the Strutt Centre
last week. The Alan Ayckbourn play follows three
married couples as they battle with and against one
another admidst a social minefield of mental illness,
infidelity, class snobbery - and a very large dog.
To add to the farce, it's set at Christmas over three
consecutive years, in three different kitchens,
descending the characters into further misery as
they're forced to make awkward conversation with
aquaintances they don't even like as they sip on their
G and Ts.
The first Christmas is set in the humble abode of
Sidney and Jane, played by brilliant young actors Neil
Winfield and Jo Hayes. Neurotic doormat Jane nervously
fusses as Sidney braces himself to impress some
But disaster ensues when Jane can't find the tonic and
the mortification of it all forces her to hide in the
garden as Sidney laughs too loudly at his bank
The second act takes place at Geoff and Eva's. By this
point we already know Geoff is a cocky womaniser and
his wife a world-weary pill popper.
Things have taken a turn for the worse over the last
year and the arrival of guests won't stop Eva from
sitting silently and staring vacantly in her dressing
What follows is a brilliantly performed piece of dark
comedy as guests obliviously witter on as she tries to
kill herself. With every attempt, including putting
her head in the oven and tying a noose around a light
fixture, another well-meaning character steps in to
'help her with the housework'.
Finally they all visit Ronald (Keith Whitaker, who is
another natural) and his snob of a wife Marion
(Jaqueline Beresford, a good comic), who has been
swigging and sneering her way through the play.
By the final act she is very drunk and grieving for
her lost beauty and youth.
Ron despairs as his wife languishes and Eva and her
reluctant husband pander to Sidney and Jane, who are
displaying their new-found wealth in the form of
By the last slightly displaced scene, the audience
look on in amusement as the power shift between the
characters is cemented in an absurd game.