The question in reviving any play is whether or not a contemporary audience will appreciate vintage material. Fortunately, Absurd Person Singular — Sir Alan’s 1972 triptych about three English couples keeping up appearances at three successive Christmas Eve parties — avoids this pitfall.
Like any successful revival, this production triumphs largely through the timeless themes of the material: role reversal, the navigation of social strata, and blinding denial. Ayckbourn’s effortless, witty dialogue certainly doesn’t hurt matters, nor does a truly brilliant cast, dramatic irony and a slew of characters who are both quirky and recognizable: social-climbing Jane sucks her thumb and scrubs her kitchen with ruthless efficiency while the sensational Deborah Rush as Marion somehow glamorizes being an aging alcoholic. Act II sees the plot grow darker as the couples sing carols in Eva Jackson’s kitchen, ostensibly oblivious to her numerous suicide attempts. Misery mingles with slapstick throughout the rest of the play, a curious dramatic tactic that toys with the mind — an effect that, like Absurd Person Singular, doesn’t appear to grow old.