Wednesday, 22 February 2012
Theatre review: Absent Friends
The comedy isn't uproarious but it's sharp and the cast work well together to show us this disparate group of clearly-defined characters who've ended up in each others' lives largely by default (though why the stone-cold Evelyn ever ended up married to loser John is a mystery.) Among the strong ensemble Parkinson is good as the smiling hostess permanently on the verge of hysteria, Armand often quietly steals the scene as his character, with his phobia of talking about death (an unfortunate condition given why they're there,) starts to get the shakes, while Berrington's Marge constantly putting her foot in it is also funny. Having been outside of the group for a while Colin's proclamations about his friends' personalities are comically wide of the mark while containing the odd accidental grain of truth. The rather bleak conclusion has to be that Colin's the happiest in his relationship, as his fiancée died before things could sour between them and he remembers her as perfect. Ayckbourn's wry observations remain apt and as that clocks ticks off the minutes in real time Jeremy Herrin's production captures the uncomfortable comedy.
Absent Friends by Alan Ayckbourn is booking until the 14th of April at the Harold Pinter Theatre.
Running time: 2 hours 5 minutes including interval.