Tea party chaos classic Ayckbourn

Absent Friends SUS-150319-110845001

Absent Friends SUS-150319-110845001

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Alan Ayckbourn’s Absent Friends, one of the most popular of his plays, comes to Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park Theatre from Tuesday, April 28 to Saturday, May 2.

Ayckbourn’s tragi-comic take on 1970s middle-class suburbia is considered to be one of the most significant plays of the decade.

Acerbic and painfully funny, Absent Friends explores friendships, marriage and what it ultimately means to be happy.

It is the summer of 1974 and a well-intentioned tea party descends into chaos. Wealthy, unfulfilled housewife Diana arranges a gathering of old friends to cheer up bereaved Colin, whose fiancée drowned two months earlier.

Paul, her bullying, self-absorbed husband, has recently had an affair with Evelyn, the glamorous wife of his friend and incompetent business associate, John.

The party is completed by long-suffering Marge, who has left Gordon, her hypochondriac spouse, ailing at home.

Preparations for the party spark tensions and open old wounds. As lingering resentments and deep-rooted jealousies surface, an unexpectedly cheerful Colin strolls into the mayhem.

In one of his finest plays, Ayckbourn’s craftsmanship and acute social observation have never been sharper or more biting.

The play is produced by the acclaimed London Classic Theatre.