ABSENT FRIENDS

PRODUCTION DETAILS

 

TITLE: Absent Friends

PLAYWRIGHT: Alan Ayckbourn

PERFORMANCE DATES: 27th - 29th October 2022

DIRECTOR: Nicki Clay

CAST 

Diana - Helen Lawley

Evelyn - Nicki Clay

Marge - Julia Birkett

Paul - Geoff Stockill

John - Trevor Britain

Colin - Mike Waters

Click HERE for production programme

SYNOPSIS - ABIGAIL'S PARTY

Diana has organised a tea party for Colin, an old friend of her husband Paul. Colin’s fiancé has recently drowned and the aim is to cheer him up with a gathering of old friends Paul, John and Gordon. Gordon is, typically, ill and his wife Marge turns up instead, while Paul and John are less than enthusiastic about the party.

CHAIR’S PRODUCTION NOTES

Putting on a production involves many people and it is down to the enthusiasm, support, experience, commitment and friendship within the group that makes all the time and hard work so worthwhile. There were several occasions when this production may well have not gone ahead, and it is thanks to the determination of the director, Nicki, who spent many hours reading lots of plays until she eventually found one that worked for the dynamics of the group.

After having acted with several other groups around Yorkshire (due to various house moves), it took me a while before I found The Monday Players, and I have spent 17 years being very proud to be a part of a great group of people who come together to produce fabulous theatre.

This year we have welcomed new members Carol Drinkwater, Nigel Fisher, Niamh McKeating and Doreen Marsh. If you are interested in joining The Monday Players, on or off stage, or both, please get in touch and come along to a play read or rehearsal. You will be very much welcomed. 
 

There will be a donation to York Cancer Trust, which will be facilitated by the raffle proceeds.

Finally, thank you to all our sponsors who have been kind enough to advertise in our programme and to our audience for your continued support and patronage. It is, as always, greatly appreciated.

I hope you enjoy our play. 
With best wishes
Linda (Vice Chair)
 

DIRECTOR'S NOTE

Not going to lie… it’s been quite a journey to get here! I had been very excited to be directing another Ayckbourn – Time of my Life – an absolute diamond of a play. Alas, due to an unexpected shortfall of both the younger female and male variety, I had to rethink my plans, and quickly! A further five one-acts and three full plays were perused, considered, and discarded, until I came full circle and went with my leaning towards Ayckbourn. Having directed Absurd Person Singular back in 2015, I do worry why I feel such a connection to his frustratingly warped and dysfunctional characters! Perhaps they are so far removed from anyone I know (or are they?) that they excite me, draw me in to their quirkiness, and obvious vulnerabilities.

Absent Friends is described as a play, not a comedy. Cheap laughs you will not find, but the clever Ayckbourn humour is present throughout, bringing relief to an undercurrent of loss and despair; excruciating pauses illuminate the awkwardness in the room … you will laugh, of that I am certain. Friends, absent from the get together, permeate the room, yet friends, present in the room, are absent! It is regarded as one of Ayckbourn’s most popular plays, a regular on the AmDram circuit, and with frequent professional revivals all over the world. It was first performed in 1974 at The Library Theatre in Scarborough, with a cast including Peter Bowles, Richard Briers and Phyllida Law, and subsequently made into a ‘Theatre Night’ TV play with Julia McKenzie, Tom Courtenay, Maureen Lipman and Hywel Bennet.

It is set in the present day (at the time of writing, the early 70s), however, I needed to differentiate from our previous production of Abigail’s Party which was set in the late 70s. Ayckbourn expressed his intention that within the play, the unequal roles of male and female be exposed. The wife/mother very much subservient to her husband; little time outside of the home to pursue her own ambitions and individuality. Identity and self-worth are lost. Evelyn, however, is a ‘new woman’, determined not to be ineffectual as she observes Diana and Marge to be. I decided that I could set a little later, mid-80s… big hair, double denim, shoulder pads and knitted cardis – nice! Even though women had progressed slightly, pushing forward to become a little less in the background, a life outside the home, sadly not all were in such a position, nor felt strong enough or supported by their husbands to do so. History had dictated a woman’s place in society, especially within the home - Diana and Marge are still only homemakers, yet to fly free!

Absent Friends is a simple play on the surface, no whizzy effects, scenery, or gimmicks, yet it is clever, frustrating, and intriguing. I decided to stage the play in a studio style space – different from any other production, I didn’t want scenery, excess set furniture, elaborate styling. It is all about the characters, their personalities, the social dynamics, and their conversations. Having our audience seated on tiers, I hope it will make the space more intimate, everyone a little closer to observing this dysfunctional bunch of fabulousness!
 

At this opportunity I want to express my sincere thanks and affection to my wonderful cast. It has been a hard slog at times but with giggles a plenty. I appreciate their tenacity to stick with it, tolerating my exacting demands! Enjoy it you fabulous bunch of people. Thanks also to my amazing production and rehearsal team, your dedication and support has been key in getting to this point. Finally, a special thanks to Linda Baillie, she has been my right-hand woman throughout this journey, stepping into a cornucopia of roles, often with little or no warning, and enabling me to both direct and act for this production. I owe you!

I hope you enjoy Absent Friends!

 

Nicki Clay
 

Abenst Friends Option 1b.png
Ticket Thu
Ticket Sat
Ticket Fri
IMG_0849
IMG_0853
IMG_0856
IMG_0864
IMG_0871
IMG_0874
IMG_0875_edited-1
IMG_0878
IMG_0883
IMG_0888
IMG_0892
IMG_0894
IMG_0898
IMG_0899
IMG_0907
IMG_0909
IMG_0915
IMG_0918
IMG_0923
IMG_0927
IMG_0932
IMG_0934
IMG_0940
IMG_0945
IMG_0946
IMG_0950
IMG_0951
IMG_0955
IMG_0958
IMG_0959
IMG_0963
IMG_0964
IMG_0966
IMG_0968
IMG_0970
IMG_0973
IMG_0976
IMG_0979
IMG_0982
IMG_0984
IMG_0986
IMG_0991
IMG_0992
IMG_0994
IMG_0996
IMG_0999
IMG_1001
IMG_1005
IMG_1007
IMG_1008
IMG_1018
IMG_1019
IMG_1022
IMG_1034
IMG_1036
IMG_1040
IMG_1043
IMG_1046
IMG_1063
IMG_1064
IMG_1065
IMG_1066
IMG_1067
IMG_1068
IMG_1069
IMG_1073
IMG_1079
IMG_1093
IMG_1094
IMG_1100
IMG_1109
IMG_1119
IMG_1123
IMG_1124
IMG_1126
IMG_1129
IMG_1134
IMG_1144
IMG_1150 copy
IMG_1156
IMG_1157
IMG_1161
IMG_1162_edited-1
IMG_1164
IMG_1173
IMG_1177

Photos taken by Nancy Waters