Set in 1970s English suburbia, Absurd Person Singular chronicles the changing fortunes of three married – and wild incompatible – couples. This 1972 play by prolific British playwright Sir Alan Ayckbourn features three acts that take place at a Christmas celebration at one of the couples’ homes on successive Christmas Eves, where bleak truths and wild hilarity ensues. Presented in Singapore by the good folks at The Stage Club and directed by Jacqueline Elfick, Absurd Person Singular promises to be a solid two-hour distraction.
Walking the fine line between farce and tragedy, the play stars with Sidney Hopcroft and his cleaning-obssessed wife Jane holding a drinks party, hoping to impress their high-powered acquaintances that leads to an advance up the social ladder. However, whatever havoc that ensues is nothing compared to what happens at the next two Christmases when their hospitality is returned.
Playwright Alan Ayckbourn often features individuals whose middle-cass lives are in flux, and the play’s satire of the early 1970s get-rich-quick culture will resonate with today’s audiences. And few plays expose the pressures of the festive season to such devastating effect: it’s as if all your worst Christmases have arrived at once.
This production by The Stage Club, directed by Jacqueline Elfick, features a cracker of a cast with Neal Thapar as Geoffrey, a confident womanizing architect whose career takes a downward spiral, Alexandra Wong as his depressed wife, and Aurelia Roberts as Marion Brewster-Wright, an eccentric and tragic woman who turns out to be a deeply disturbed alcoholic.
We chat with Director Jacqueline Elfick about the challenges of producing the play in Singapore:
Why did the Stage Club choose to stage Alan Ayckbourn’s Absurd Person Singular?
Absurd Person Singular is a great night out. It’s one of the funniest plays of all time and at this time of year, with all the pressures of work and school, who isn’t in need of a good laugh?
The play is set in the UK in the 1970s – will this production be true to this time period and setting?
The production is true to the original setting and this is reflected in the set and music. The themes of the play though, are universal, timeless, and are still very much talking points today so modern people can relate to the stageplay and its references.
We all understand the ups and downs of romantic relationships. And everyone has had their fair share of awkward social gatherings where we feel we’re on display and being judged – whether it’s office drinks or cultural festivities where relatives discuss our personal lives and achievements very loudly!
What were the main challenges for you as Director of this play?
Keeping the laughter under control during the first few rehearsals. The dialogue is out of this world hilarious. But seriously speaking, the tone took a while to establish. The play is dark in places and it’s important not to gloss over it.
Absurd Person Singular runs at the KC Arts Centre, Home of the SRT from 11-14 October 2017. Tickets are priced at $37 on weekdays and $42 on weekends (excluding booking fee) and are available at SISTIC.
Top image courtesy of The Stage Club