Wednesday, April 29, 2009

'Absent Friends' will fill the stage

One-night performance takes place at nexStage

Express Staff Writer

From left, Andrew McKaige, Janice Payne, David Hepworth, Gloria Gunter, Linnie Blomquist and Adam King are the cast of "Absent Friends." Photo by

When one is watching a dry British comedy-drama on stage, English mannerisms only enhance the effect of striking language and belly-aching laughter.

A production of British playwright Alan Ayckbourn's "Absent Friends" will be staged at the nexStage Theatre in Ketchum for a one-time performance on Sunday, May 3, at 6 p.m. by the Royal Larkspur Play Troupe. Doors open at 6 p.m. with a Noel Coward music program. Donations are suggested and a question-and-answer session will take place following the play.

"Ayckbourn likes to make things accessible to the viewer and sends messages about love and marriage, which leaves you thinking afterwards," said the play's director, Gary Hoffman. "A little variety is the spice of life and in Ketchum we can throw other spices into a performance and get lots of laughs."

"Absent Friends" is about a tea party gathering that takes place in a middle- to upper-class home with a group of friends who hold secrets with each other, share tragedies and enjoy self-deprecating humor.

Ayckbourn has written 72 plays, of which many have been staged in London's West End theaters. He has directed more than 300 plays that have included many West End premieres. In addition, Ayckbourn runs his own production company in London's National Theatre. He has been awarded the prestigious Olivier and Moliere Award for accomplished playwrights. Ayckbourn's trilogy "The Norman Conquests" is currently on Broadway as a revival production as three separate plays.

"The comedy in 'Absent Friends' is drier than Neil Simon without the one-line zingers," Hoffman said. "The secret to the success of this play is the timing. It is pretty rapid fire and moves along at a fast pace."

Sabina Dana Plasse:

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