Absent Friends

by Alan Ayckbourn

Absent Friends had 4 performances almost 18 years ago (between the 14th of July 2004 and the 17th of July 2004) at The Riverhouse Barn

In Absent Friends, Ayckbourn discards his usual technical high jinks and give us a relatively straightforward situation, a consolatory tea party thrown for Colin by his former friends after the death of his fiancee. Serious issues are handled within a highly comic framework.

Colin is a well-meaning, bereaved hero who destroys human relationships with a vacuous Smile. The gap between what we are and what other people perceive us to be is at the core of this intimate, funny-painful play. It is simple in form but powerful in its effect. Absent Friends maximises the central irony of the play; the sentimental man who brings disaster in his wake whilst prompting from us edgy laughter. Ayckbourn suggests that best friends are indeed those who are usually absent.

Original

Paul - Iain Donaldson

A egocentric executive who rises early, works late, plays squash and has sundry affairs. An upwardly mobile man, squandering his humanity in the process

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Diana - Laura Allen

Paul's wife, she is certain her husband is having an affair. Neurotic and on the edge of hysteria, relentlessly voluble to cover her insecurities. Funny/sad in his loneliness and desperation

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Evelyn - Anna Beuden

A dolly-bird. A morose gum-chewer constantly immersed in women's magazines. Taciturn nd totally expressionless. Very funny in her catatonic misery and disinterest in events around her.

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Marge - Helen Skinner

A relentless shopper and busybody. Her husband has become her substitute child. A funny fuss-pot.

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John - Ian Thomas

Married to Evelyn, once a livewire but now a restless, change-jingling, incompetent, third-rate salesman. A snapper up of useless bargains. A compliant cuckold and hopeless hyperactive whose optimism keeps breaking through

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Colin - Keith Bollands

Serenely smiling suburban man. Speaks his mind without restraint. Colin's motives are the kindest possible but the effects are calamitous. Not only gets everyone wrong but precipitates a dramatic crisis with his cheerful bonhomie.

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Director - Judith Dolley

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Stage Manager - Clare Pinnock

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Stage Manager (assistant) - Liz Thomas

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Lighting - Bill Payne

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Lighting (Assistant) - Jonathan Miller

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Sound - Ian Santry

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Set Design and Construction - John Godliman

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Set Construction (Assisted) - Brian Walters

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Set Construction (Assisted) - Ian Thomas

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Set Construction (Assisted) - Ann Philcox

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Set Construction (Assisted) - Dennis Philcox

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Decor - Jill Payne

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Publicity - Anne Nunn

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Box Office Manager - Ann Philcox

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Publicity - Gillian Smithies

Original

Publicity - Frankie Godliman