Alan Ayckbourn's Absent Friends, a 1974 play about manners and social embarrassment, is returning to the West End early next year, boasting a stellar cast.
These most British of social themes are explored at a tea party packed full of flirting, sniping, cringing embarrassment and dark humour. Thoughtfully arranged by Diana for the recently-bereaved Colin, the gathering of friends soon descends into awkward discomfort as one-night stands, ruthless business ambition and various failings are all laid bare.
It is classic, comic British theatre from the 'most performed living English playwright' and showcases much of what is considered great about Alan Ayckbourn's work. Absent Friends invites the audience to laugh at, then along with, the characters before finally facing up to the familiar issues of sex, death and money, which are all undercurrents of British suburban life.
The production brings together a tremendous cast of British acting talent including Waterloo Road's Elizabeth Berrington, Gavin and Stacey's 'Dave Coaches', Steffan Rhodri, Reece Shearsmith of The League of Gentlemen and Psychoville, and former Eastender, Strictly Come Dancing 2010 winner and all-round isn't-she-lovely, Kara Tointon, fresh from her triumphant turn in Pygmalion.
Add to that David Armand from the Armstrong & Miller Show and Katherine Parkinson from The IT Crowd and Absent Friends boasts a cast to rival any in the West End, and sure to bring dark, warming laughs to London's bleak midwinter when it opens in the New Year.
Alan Ayckbourn's Absent Friends is running at the West End's Harold Pinter Theatre (formerly the Comedy Theatre) from 26th January to 14th April 2012. Note that there are matinee performances on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
We have tickets available now priced from £39.50 to £65 for the best stalls.