Review: Absent Friends, Westacre Theatre
I had not seen a play by Sir Alan Ayckbourn for some time, and I hoped I would enjoy a well written play, and one containing themes relevant to today in a good production at Westacre Theatre on a recent visit.
I’m delighted to report my expectations were met and exceeded, in a fine production, which I find difficult to find fault with.
This thoughtful, deep and dark comedy (if comedy is quite the right word), concerns an invitation given to Colin, a character who has recently suffered the loss of his fiancé, by a group of friends who wish to comfort and cheer him up by holding a gathering at the home of Diana and Paul.
Diana seems to have initiated the occasion, but her husband, and other friends, the very moody and cold, Evelyn, the chatty Marge, and nervous John, find it difficult to engage with Colin, who seems strangely chirpy and upbeat despite his loss.
During the course of the play, personal issues which the characters have hidden internally, become increasingly apparent, such as their unfulfilled ambitions, relationships with their partners and children, and generally dealing with friendships and the challenges life brings.
These are themes still relevant today, although the play was written in the 1970s, apparently based on true events in Sir Alan’s life.
I’ll not single out any cast member for special praise as standards of performance were very high, all round.
Thanks to Andy Naylor and Issy Huckle for directing a first-class production and all involved at Westacre for making the evening an enjoyable one.