Absurd Person Singular



  • A black comedy by Alan Ayckbourn, often consideredhis most perfect work. It was first performed in 1972 at the Stephen JosephTheatre in the Round, Scarborough, where Ayckbourn was artisticdirector. It transferred the following year to the Criterion Theatre,London, where it became one of five Ayckbourn plays running simultaneouslyin the West End. The play ran for over 590 performances during itsfirst Broadway run in 1976.

    The three acts feature three parties, in three kitchens, onthree successive Christmas Eves. In each case the action takes placeaway from the main group of guests; Ayckbourn called Absurd PersonSingular his first "offstage action play". In thefirst act the abrasive Sidney and his wife Jane play host to theirneighbours Geoffrey and Eva and Ronald and Marion. The action is purefarce, with flyspray mistakenly used as a room freshener, guests lockedoutside, and numerous personal misunderstandings. At the second party,given by Geoffrey and Eva, Geoffrey tells his wife that he intendsto leave her on Boxing Day. She tries unsuccessfully to commit suicidebut none of the guests notices. Geoffrey goes for a doctor as thedrunken guests sing 'On the First Day of Christmas'. The last acttakes place in Ronald and Marion's kitchen, with Marion drunk andill in her bedroom. The party ends with frenzied dancing to a Scottishreel.