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Westacre Theatre debuts Absent Friends by Alan Ayckbourn on May 5, a humorously bleak play



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It’s always good to see old friends, isn’t it?

In a strikingly simple two-act play in a single setting with six characters just sitting around and talking, prolific playwright Alan Ayckbourn made Absent Friends one of his most significant dramas of the 1970s.

Best performed in a snug venue where you cannot help but overhear the captivating conversation on-stage means the Westacre Theatre Studio provides a perfect auditorium. Directors Andy Naylor and Issy Huckle ensure this challenging work maintains all of its considerable charm while losing none of its ability to disconcert us through its emotional truths.

Westacre Theatre. Absent Friends opens on May 5.
Westacre Theatre. Absent Friends opens on May 5.

We watch in real time as the well-meaning intentions of jolly bank worker Colin simply create even more rifts between his five friends who have arranged a tea-party for him after his fiancee died tragically.

Held together through an emotive mixture of business and cross-marital ties, the five being on edge about what to say to Colin really is merely the tip of the iceberg.

His untroubled cheerfulness contrasts starkly with the depths of despair displayed by his friends. And it is their unhappiness that Colin is oblivious to.

Westacre Theatre. Absent Friends opens on May 5.
Westacre Theatre. Absent Friends opens on May 5.

You may find yourself torn between tears and laughter as Ayckbourn’s clever craftsmanship obscures his astute social observation. Certainly this disastrous reunion provides for a humorously bleak slice of theatre.

There are six evening shows and a matinee between Thursday, May 5 and Saturday, May 14; to make your outing complete there is the option of pre-performance dining on a selection of the dates.

Please visit here for full details and your tickets.

Westacre Theatre. Absent Friends opens on May 5.
Westacre Theatre. Absent Friends opens on May 5.

As the first in-house production this year to get beyond initial rehearsals, it is eagerly awaited by the regular theatre audience.

Two in-house plays by the Westacre Theatre Company planned for the Studio stage earlier this year were unfortunately postponed due to sickness in the cast and crew.

Revived following its success last autumn, is the first of the deferrals Under Lockdown in Milk Wood. Written and directed by long-standing Westacre collaborator Leah Spencer, it is now rescheduled for two Sunday afternoons – May 15 and 22.

Westacre Theatre. Absent Friends opens on May 5.
Westacre Theatre. Absent Friends opens on May 5.

The second is a major drama directed by Matt Grist about the brutal separation of young children from their families in Germany and Austria during the seven months before World War Two.

The particularly poignant subject of Diane Samuels’ seminal story in Kindertransport is now widely considered to be a modern classic; an especially moving drama that so tragically reflects the current distressing events in Ukraine. Tickets remain available from Westacre for the four performances on June 9, 10 and 11.



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