By Larry Taylor/
Garden Grove Journal
Alan Ayckbourn is one of England’s most popular playwrights. Prolific, he has written many plays, and SCR has produced several. Written in 1972, “Absurd Person Singular,” one of his most popular comedies is getting a shiny new production at South Coast Repertory.
Here, director David Emmes takes a terrific group of actors, many SCR regulars, and leads them through their farcical flights, all the while making sure proceedings are tethered to their serious underpinnings. The play is very funny but makes sober points about ambition and marital relationships.
It follows three different English couples over three years of Christmas parties in their various homes. We see the differences in their social and financial stations and see major changes in relationships and lifestyles–some for better; some for worse.
Things reach their zany zenith in the second act at a holiday party in one couple’s messy kitchen. Friends come together to try to clean up while the houseowners’ relationship is going seriously awry. In one corner, gentile Jan (a flighty Kathleen Early) puts on rubber gloves and begins cleaning a greasy oven, pushing aside semi-comatose Eva. It seems she was trying to gas herself.
Meanwhile, guest Ronald (a game Robert Curtis Brown) gets in the fix-up mood and stands on a table trying to tape a light fixture when he suddenly gets electrified and can’t stop flipping and flopping around in the clutches of the current. At the kitchen sink, Sidney (self-styled jack of all trades JD Callum) crawls under the counter to unclog blockage, but soon has the room and himself reeking with waste.
All the above in the name of helping Eva (a nearly comatose and suicidal (Tessa Auiberjonois). She out of it from drugs and alcohol.
The first act has the characters positioning themselves. They all seem to want something form the other. And marital relationships are teetering. In the last act, positions have changed, some are better off but others are still mired in bad situations. Thinks are (sort of) wrapped up.
Scenic designer Sara Ryung Clement and costume designer Nephelie Andonyadis do a good job decorating the various kitchens which range from seventies tacky, to Bohemian rough, to upperclass posh.
“Absurd Person Singular plays though Oct. 7 on Segerstrom Stage. Sarah Ruhl’s “Eurydice” opens Sept. 28 in the Julianne Agyros Theater at SCR. Ruhl uses the Orpheus myth as a point of inspiration, but takes the story in a whole new direction.