Review: Absurd Person Singular, Chellaston Players

It seems slightly odd to be hearing festive tunes as we head into summer but as Absurd Person Singular is set on Christmas Eve there is no way to escape them.

Luckily Alan Ayckbourn’s dark comedy is a winner in any season and can be guaranteed to get you chortling until your sides split – as the audience at St Peter’s Church Hall in Chellaston discovered last night.

The action is played out over three acts, featuring drinks parties held by three very different couples on consecutive Christmas Eves.

The play’s satire of the 1970s, class ridden,  get-rich-quick culture is actually quite disturbing and at times you are not sure if you really should laugh – but then I suppose that’s the whole point.

Ayckbourn’s genius was to move the action away from the living room and into the kitchen, where the social ambition and dysfunctional relationships of the couples are revealed.

The Chellaston Players brought six very real characters to the stage – all of whom you feel certain you have known at some time in your life.

A lot of the plot depends on facial expressions and silent gestures and so timing is crucial. It is not as easy as it looks at the players did brilliantly to pull it off.

The three women were a joy to watch and between them stole the show. Katyana Malcolm was perfect as Sidney’s timid and mousy spouse Jane Hopcroft and Cathy Wilson played the pompous, snobbish, gin swilling bank manager’s wife Marion with aplomb.

Danni Arme as the depressed, pill-popping Bohemian Eva Jackson, was excellent. She should be congratulated for her acting in the second half where, oblivious to the rest of the party goers, she attempted to commit suicide several times. Her character remained mute throughout the scene but Danni managed to keep us all enthralled.

Lee Brown was also convincing as Sidney, the manipulative bully, who at first is naive and social inept but by the end literally has the rest of the characters dancing to his tune.

The philandering, misogynist Geoffrey Jackson, whose Jack-the-Lad confidence is sapped away by his failure as an architect was played brilliantly by Jim Wilson. His medallion and giant 1970s shirt collar were a great touch.

The sardonic character of poor old Ronald Brewster-Wright, strained by his wife’s increasingly erratic behaviour was played by Phil Muir, who gave a solid performance throughout.

The play was directed by Peter Konowalik and he and the backstage team did a terrific job with the many sound effects necessary to convince us it was raining outside and there was a party going on in the room nextdoor.

The rest of the production team were Elaine Lawrenson, John Howarth, Adam Tempest, Flora Palmer, Maggie McNally, Emma Bridges, and Bill Ramsbottom.

The play can be seen tonight and tomorrow at 7.30pm. Go to http://www.chellastonplayers.co.uk for more details.