Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Fun and Delightful Production: The Footlight Club Presents "Absurd Person Singular"

"Absurd Singular Person"

Written by
Alan Ackybourn

Directed by
Will Luera

Sidney - Scott Colford
Jane - Michelle Bonanno
Geoffrey - Ted Batch
Eva - Frances Vella
Ronald - Stephen Peters
Marion - Anne Colpitts

The Footlight Club recently opened the play"Absurd Person Singular", written by Alan Ayckbourn. Originally written in the 70s, the play has been presented in London, New York and even adapted for TV.  Bordering on British farce and comedy, the show sounded intriguing for a night of theatre.

The play examines three very different couples during their respective Christmas Eve parties, one year after the next.  Each act establishes a different year, all taking place in their respectable kitchens.  We come to view each couple, Sidney and Jane, Geoffrey and Eva, and finally Ronald and Marion.  We see their interactions and marital hang ups, getting a sense of their relationships with each other and the other couples.  Over the course of three years, we see their journeys reach some semblance of resolution.

Each actor does a wonderful job of establishing the typical archetypes in this production.  The show called for the use of accents and the variety of dialects in the show was quite refreshing.  Scot Colford's Sidney is wonderfully impish in delivery and attitude. He plays it delightfully and nearly steals the show.  Frances Vella's Eva is captures the quirkiness of the character very well and in her non-speaking moments in quietly brilliant, adding a great flair of humor in what can seemingly be dark moments. She balances her dramatic and comedic moments with ease. Anne Colpits, gives us quite the performance as the regal and classic Marion, who is quite the liquor aficionado. We all want to have a drink with her and just want to absorb her presence.  Michelle Bonanno's Jane is adorably naive we just want to give her a hug. Her evident excitement for the simplest of things is incredibly fun to watch.   Geoffrey is played cooly by Ted Batch. He is so cavalier, and carries himself with heaps of confidence.   Steve Peters' Ronald is full of experience and a noticeable calm.  During the silliest moments of the show, he marvelously plays the straight man.  The couples' relationships with each other is fun to watch as their chemistry speaks volumes about their characters' friendships over the years. They are all incredibly comfortable with each other.

Though the performances were quite good, the play on the other hand is poorly written from start to finish. During many points of the play, the sequence of events seemed to be the result of a long improvisation sketch that just needed to end. Much of the play could have easily been cut as some of it dragged. As it with farces, the most ridiculous series of moments are constantly happening. With this play, moments seemed out of place. Some of bits of plot seemed disjointed and the relationships between the characters could change unnecessarily for one moment then not give us any strong or believable resolution. Also, the play couldn't decide whether it was a drama or comedy. With some weak comedic moments and over the top dramatic moments, the two did not mesh well. There was one scene that examined what seemed to be a serious interaction that ended up being played with a hint of humor that collapsed the entire moment. The writing broke the scene, not the performances. Though, the usage of the kitchens for each act was a good choice, as many charged conversations and some escapism from unwanted situations, in this place and in real life,  find their way to that particular room. That felt real.

Will Luera's direction is finely put together. It is far from forced, as he chose to avoid the use of center stage from time to time therefore using the kitchen's many areas. He created beautiful stage pictures that perfectly reflected reality, really connecting with the audiences' own experiences. Cat Stramer's set and Sherilyn Levy's costume work come together well, establishing the 70s and its overall feel nicely.  We are truly visually immersed in this world thanks to the fine work and effort put into creating this production. Even the simple lighting and sound design (with a great creation of lightning) deserves a thumbs up from making it actually look and sound real. Kudos to the produciton value of this show.

The Footlight Club puts in great effort into this production, despite the weak script and story.  Even with the many tropes that comedies and farces produce, it falls over itself many times throughout.  However, the actors and production crew did a wonderful job to keep it fresh and full of energy. This show is a fun little romp presented by a premiere community theatre that has always and will continue to entertain and create memorable theatrical experiences for everyone.