Absurd Person Singular: World Premiere ReviewsThis page contains reviews of the world premiere production of Alan Ayckbourn's Absurd Person Singular at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, in June 1972. It is not a complete set of reviews as the aim of the page is to offer a flavour of how the play was originally received and to offer a cross-section of opinion. All reviews on this page are the copyright of the respective publication and / or author and should not be reproduced. Extracts from reviews of the original West End production of Absurd Person Singular can be found here.
Administrator's note: Unfortunately - given the significance of the play - only two reviews of the world premiere production of Alan Ayckbourn's Absurd Person Singular are held in the Ayckbourn Archive at the University of York.
Scarborough (by John Whitley)
"Probably the hottest place in Scarborough at present is the Library Theatre, a smallish square Georgian room above the public library, packed with holidaymakers of all ages for a new play by Alan Ayckbourn, the highlight of the theatre in the round season.
Ayckbourn's plays usually end up in the West End after their premiere in Scarborough (he has two there at the moment and this new mixture of farce and comedy of manners will no doubt follow them). It shows the rise of an unappetising entrepreneur and the corresponding decline of the notabilities who at first snub him and then are made - literally - to dance to his tune in a hilarious game of forfeits. The playwright is also the director and has had the amusing idea of setting all the three acts in the kitchens of the various families involved, though it seems rather wilful to choose a theatre in the round and then barricade the cast off from the audience by running sink units and fridges all around the acting area.
The importance of the Library Theatre, apart from Ayckbourn's writing and active support (he is the theatre's artistic director), is precisely that it is in the round, the creation of the late Stephen Joseph when he was a lone voice crying in the proscenium wilderness whose advocacy has led to a general opening out of the stage: it would be a deserved tribute to Joseph's devoted labours as well as to the quality of the present work if the Council could bring itself to establish a permanent theatre in the round in an area largely given over to the juggernaut Bingo. Meantime East Coast visitors can steal a march on London theatregoers and enjoy a bright and bracing example of the Theatre of the Ozone."
(Sunday Times, 27 August 1972)
Absurd Person Singular
Alan Ayckbourn, who has two West End successes, Relatively Speaking and How the Other Half Loves, probably has another in the making in Absurd Person Singular, which was given its premiere in the-round at the Library Theatre, Scarborough. Mr Ayckbourn, who directed this latest of frivolity himself, kept the audience holidaymakers in tucks and frequent gales of laughter.
True, the subject matter is again concerned with marital incompatibility, but it is quite different to his other plays. Absurd Person Singular is in three episodic acts, each in the different setting of the kitchens of three married couples - the Hopcrofts, the Brewster-Wrights and the Jacksons - and makes great play and no end of fun and games out of the strangely absurd and almost lunatic happenings at three Christmas Eve parties at which the company of six - Philippa Urquhart, Piers Rogers, Christopher Godwin, Matyelock Gibbs, Jennifer Piercy and Ray Jewers - take part. All are good character players and their antics are fantastic and rise to a crescendo in the finale.
A tightening up here and there of the dialogue, particularly in the first act, and the trimming down of an abnormal comedy to more normal comedy length proportions is all that is needed.
(The Stage, 6 July 1972)
All reviews are copyright of the respective publication.