Absurd Person Singular: Synopsis

Cast: 3 male / 3 female
Running time (approximate): 2 hours 15 minutes - not including the interval.
Availability: Absurd Person Singular is available for both professional and amateur production.
Acting edition: Published by Samuel French.

Note: The playwright considers it essential that Absurd Person Singular is performed as a period piece set to the time it was written (the early 1970s). Furthermore, any production should include a note in the programme stating the era of the play to put the play into context.


Sidney Hopcroft (A tradesman)
Jane Hopcroft (His wife)
Ronald Brewster-Wright (A banker)
Marion Brewster-Wright (His wife)
Geoffrey Jackson (An architect)
Eva Jackson (His wife)
Absurd Person Singular play is set during the early 1970s over three Christmases in the kitchens of three couples: Sidney Hopcroft, an ambitious tradesman, and his submissive wife Jane; architect and adulterer Geoffrey Jackson and his depressed wife, Eva; Ronald Brewster-Wright, a banker, and his alcoholic wife Marion. The three couples range from working to upper class.

‘Last’ Christmas is set at Sidney’s house, who hopes to persuade the others to invest in his business - although both Geoffrey and Ronald are obviously dismissive of the man and dislike him. Throughout the scene, Sidney’s unfeeling treatment of Jane becomes apparent, as does the way she rises above it. It also becomes obvious that Geoffrey and Eva’s marriage is on the rocks and that in Ronald, Geoffrey sees the potential for help with a new commission for a shopping centre. Unseen in the lounge, Dick and Lottie Potter hold sway with their raucous jokes, forcing the others to seek refuge in the kitchen. By the end of the act Jane has been locked out of the kitchen in the pouring rain only able to return when the party, declared a success by Sidney, is over.

‘This’ Christmas is spent at Geoffrey and Eva’s flat. Geoffrey’s fortunes have fallen and Eva spends most of the act attempting to commit suicide in ever more desperate, domestic ways. Jane mistakes her attempts to gas herself for cleaning and takes over scrubbing the oven; the tablets Eva loses down the sink leads Sidney to offer to help with the plumbing - getting soaked as result; when Eva tries to hang herself, Ronald thinks she’s trying to change the light-bulb and takes over - electrocuting himself in the process. In despair, she starts singing a Christmas carol as Geoffrey arrives with a doctor in tow. Amid the chaos, Marion has been getting increasingly drunk and the Jackson’s rabidly aggressive and unseen dog, George, has attacked Dick and effectively trapped them all in the kitchen.

‘Next’ Christmas is at Ronald and Marion’s house, where Marion has locked herself in her bedroom to be comforted by alcohol, leaving Ronald bewildered and lost in his own home. The roof of Geoffrey’s shopping centre has collapsed and, ironically, he is now dependent on Eva. The two couples meet for a Christmas drink but try to hide when Sidney and Jane turn up uninvited. The couple have come up trumps in the interim and are now on the rise. Once in the kitchen, it transpires Ronald, who was dismissive of them in the first act, has to court them to keep their business and Geoffrey desperately needs them to employ him as an architect to keep his career alive. Having dished out wildly inappropriate Christmas presents and with the fortunes of all couples now completely reversed, Sidney finally gets his wish for party games and makes everyone dance - literally - to his tune.

Article by Simon Murgatroyd. © Haydonning Ltd, 2002 - 2022, all rights reserved. Please do not reproduce in any form without written consent of the copyright holder.