REVIEW: Absent Friends, Sheringham Little Theatre

Absent Friends

Sheringham Little Theatre,

Summer Rep Company

Whoever said there's no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea had obviously not seen this Alan Ayckbourn 'light' comedy.

In truth it's less of a comedy than a mash up of middle class angst and broken dreams sweetened with lumps of humour and ridicule.

Set in the 1970s, Absent Friends centres on a tea party hosted by an increasingly neurotic Diana (Annie Julian) to provide support for Colin (Nick Earnshaw) who is supposed to be grieving the tragic loss of his fianc�e. But it soon becomes clear that the play is not so much about the death of a loved one but the death of love itself.

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Partygoers include Paul (Andrew Williams), who has had an affair with Evelyn (Sarah Langton), the gum-chewing, eyebrow-raising bored wife of business partner John (William Hartley), and Diana, Paul's wife.

And then there's the "saintly" Marge, played by Romily Turner who is obviously a fan of that great comedienne Joyce Grenfell.

It all comes to a head when Diana has a hysterical breakdown – and Annie Julian's performance here is spine-chilling.

But comic relief keeps breaking through as the facial expressions and chauvinistic retorts of Hartley, Williams and Earnshaw help lift the tension.

A heady brew to be sure.

Patrick Prekopp

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