Absent Friends
by Alan Acykbourn


Paul ---------------------------- Mark Simons
Diana ------------------Amanda Cummings
John ------------------------ Matthew Jones
Evelyn ----------------------------- June Gray
Colin -----------------------Keith Cummings
Marge----------------------------- Elaine Elliott

Director Michael Philips
Lights and sound Dave Mason
assisted Christopher Powell
Prompt Jill Atkins

Publicity Designed
David Millard


By Phyl Romeril (Waltham Forest Guardian)

Who needs friends such as the motley collection gathered by Alan Ayckbourn to comfort the grieving Colin after the death of a much loved fiancee? This play, one of Ayckbourn's earlier creations, is a dubious piece of humour, it makes us uneasy and has us cringeing in our seats.
Even so it presents a clear picture of real people with their marital problems and a disabilitiy to relate and whose good intentions so often rebound disastrously. In the studio theatre at Harlow, Global Theatre Company set up an interesting living room scene for the appropriate era and overcame certain age differences with the expertise of the members who rallied round at short notice to fill an unexpected gap.
Briefly, we faced with a dilemma: a bevy of friends who have never met the deceased fiancee arrange a tea party in order to lift Colin's spirits and help him to come to terms with his bereavement.
Mark Simons was a restless and energetic Paul. Amanda Cummings was an emotional and suspicious Diana . John was projected by Matthew Jones as a carefree husband of the non-communicative Evelyn, a role which June Gray handled well. Elaine Elliott Sympathetically portrayed Marge, a motherly, fussy lady who had a husband who was permanently ailing.
What a depressing bunch of friends. By the time Colin arrives a tense situation exits and the only relaxed and happy one among them was the bereaved Colin. Keith Cummings deftly turned the tables as he analaysed their problems in such a way as to cause each to break down.
The humour in this play was of mixture of pathos, comedy and farce. The action was always ongoing, there were no grey areas of note. Michael Philips directed.