Absurd Person Singular

Absurd Person Singular

Absurd Person Singular is a 1972 play by Alan Ayckbourn. Divided into three acts, it documents the changing fortunes of three married couples. Each act takes place at a Christmas celebration at one of the couples' homes on successive Christmas Eves.

Production history

The play made its London début at the Criterion Theatre on 4 July 1972, transferring to the Vaudeville Theatre in July 1973, where it ran until 30 September 1974, completing a run of 973 performances.

Its official New York Broadway début was at the Music Box Theatre on October 8, 1974. It ran for 591 performances in its first run on Broadway (through March 1976). It was revived on Broadway on October 18, 2005 at the Biltmore Theatre, for 56 performances.

In 2006 it was produced by the Queensland Theatre Company and performed at the Cremorne Theatre, QPAC.

The BBC produced a television drama, adapted from the play, first broadcast on January 1, 1985 [cite web|url=http://www.alanayckbourn.net/Recordings%20-%20Absurd%20Person%20Singular.htm|title=Alan Ayckbourn Film Recordings: Absurd Person Singular|publisher=alanayckbourn.net|accessdate=2007-04-27] . It was directed by Michael Simpson and starred John Baddeley, Cheryl Campbell, Michael Gambon, Nicky Henson, Lesley Joseph, Maureen Lipman, Geoffrey Palmer and Prunella Scales.

The play was revived in the West End at the Whitehall Theatre, May 1990; and at the Garrick Theatre in December 2007.



A contractor who is eager to move into the higher social echelons, Sidney will do anything to impress rich friends, at the expense of his sanity and marriage. Sidney is something of a simpleton, and shares that innocence with his wife, keeping their marriage together. As the play progresses, he becomes wealthier and wealthier, until eventually the friends he was once desperate to impress are now courting him as their own fortunes sink lower and lower. Throughout it all, however, Sidney remains confident and cheerful and always ready to help out.


Jane is the most sympathetic character in this piece. Sidney's loyal wife, she's not much brighter than he is, but she's equally eager to please. Unlike Marion and Eva, she also has a knack for housework. Life is occasionally hard on Jane, but through hard work and congeniality, she cruises through, proud simply to share in her husband's success.


An architect by trade, Geoffrey falls from grace after a design fails. A confident man, he mistreats his wife--particularly with regards to his affairs--, but still tries to "do the right thing" by her.


Geoffrey's artist wife. While Eva initially seems perfectly normal and sane, in the second scene she falls apart, attempting suicide several times. It's difficult to say whether she is tormented in general, or whether her husband's affairs have a pronounced effect upon her psyche.


A banker who's slightly over-the-hill, Ronald takes pride in his work and enjoys the finer things in life. More conservative than the other characters, but more experienced.


Ronald's wife crawled inside a liquor bottle and has yet to escape. While she can be a perfectly fine hostess, as soon as drinks are poured, she's a goner.


External links

* [http://www.alanayckbourn.net/Production%20-%20Absurd%20Person%20Singular.htm Première dates and casts]
* [http://www.mtc-nyc.org/absurdperson/ "Absurd Person Singular" produced by the MTC]
* [http://www.ibdb.com/show.asp?ID=1365 Internet Broadway Database page]

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