Dysfunctional Fun
In "Absurd Person Singular"
At Trinity Rep

Trinity Repertory Theatre in Providence continues its 2010-2011 Season with "Absurd Person Singular," Alan Ayckbourn’s darkly humorous cocktail party comedy.

Taking place on three separate Christmas Eves in three different homes in 1970s London, "Absurd Person Singular" follows the spirit-soaked Christmas parties of three couples. The holiday trimmings include marital troubles, infidelity, tiresome friends, and suicidal thoughts. Directed by resident company member Brian McEleney, the show runs October 15 - November 21 in the Dowling Theater.

Resident acting company members Stephen Berenson and Angela Brazil make up the first pair of the evening: Sidney is a bumbling social climber, whose career progresses in inverse proportion to his kindness. His wife Jane would rather obsess over polishing the countertops than deal with the world’s troubles. Their friends Geoffrey (Fred Sullivan Jr.) and Eva (Phyllis Kay) are no more well-adjusted: Geoffrey, an architect, deals with his professional shortcomings by not-so-secretly philandering. To say that this drives Eva batty is an understatement. Finally, there's Ronald (Timothy Crowe) and Marion (Anne Scurria). Conservative Ronald finds that sitting in judgment of others doesn’t pay off, while Marion descends into drunkenness faster than an olive in a martini.

In discussing the play, director Brian McEleney commented, “It made me laugh out loud while I was reading it. Plus, it has perfect parts for our acting company! I knew at once that they would have a ball playing the three couples in the play; it’s almost as if the parts were written for them.”

McEleney goes on to say: "This is about normal everyday people in a commonly recognizable, yet high-stress, situation: The Christmas cocktail party. We all have stories of social disasters we would rather not remember - I myself will never forget that dinner party that ended with a cake getting thrown out the sixth-floor window!”

McEleney describes the play as “much more than a farce,” with each act revealing the characters in greater detail, and the offstage travails of the characters helping to lure the audience in to the bigger picture that makes up the three smaller worlds of the cocktail parties. “This play reiterates a central idea – that, in spite of our constant, well-meaning and sometimes even heroic efforts to connect to each other, we are each trapped in our own absurd and singular world. Cries for help and connection go unanswered – never through malice, but merely through the ever-so-recognizable self-absorbed inattention with which we all battle life’s chaos.”

Sir Alan Ayckbourn is one of England’s most successful living playwrights. He has written and produced 72 full-length plays in Scarborough and London and was the artistic director of Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre from 1972 – 2009, where all but four of his plays received their first performance. In addition to "Absurd Person Singular," his major successes include "The Norman Conquests" trilogy, "Bedroom Farce," "Woman in Mind," "House & Garden" and "Private Fears in Public Places." His plays have won numerous awards, including seven London Evening Standard Awards. Ten of his plays have been staged on Broadway, garnering two Tony nominations, and one Tony award.

The first performance on October 15 at 7:30 p.m. has been designated as Pay What You Can (PWYC). PWYC tickets go on sale at 6:30 p.m., with a limit of one ticket per person.

Talkbacks will be held after every performance of "Absurd Person Singular." Audiences are invited to share their response to the play’s production and themes for approximately twenty minutes.

For tickets and information, stop by the box office o at 201 Washington Street in Providence, call 401-351-4242 or visit at www.trinityrep.com.

-- OnStage Boston



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