As Alan Ayckbourn’s Absurd Person Singular celebrates its 40th anniversary, cast members past and present have been paying tribute to his classic comedy.
Absurd Person Singular is a comedy of three kitchens, Christmas catastrophes and calculated social climbing. It premiered at the Library Theatre in Scarborough in June 1972 before transferring to the West End. It won the Evening Standard Best Comedy Award in 1974.
With Surprises, the Scarborough-based playwright’s 76th play, it is running at the Stephen Joseph Theatre until Saturday October 13.
Christopher Godwin appeared in the original production. He said: “The rehearsals were hysterical. Sometimes they just fell apart, because you suddenly saw the action from outside and it was so funny.”
The London premiere featured Sheila Hancock. “When I did Absurd Person Singular, Alan wasn’t yet as venerated as he is now, but I thought then, and still do, that he is a great playwright. I still think this is probably his best. It is a little masterpiece, and through comedy says something very important about society,” said the actress.
Matthew Cottle appeared in a national tour of the play in 2009. “Playing Sidney Hopcroft is about as much fun as you could possibly have on a stage. The urge to laugh while singing the Twelve Days of Christmas, while ringing wet at the end of act two, was so great I had to pinch my legs every night to keep control.”
Matthew is in the cast of another Ayckbourn. A Chorus Of Disapproval, which was filmed in Scarborough, opens at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London’s West End on Monday September 17. The cast, in the comedy about the lives and loves of members of an amateur dramatic company is led by Rob Brydon, Nigel Harmon and Ashley Jensen. A Chorus Of Disapproval premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in 1984.
Bill Champion plays Ronald Brewster-Wright in the current production. “The thing that stands out to me is how fresh and relevant the play is. I guess in the 40 years since it was written fashions and technology may have changed but people essentially stay the same.”