Absurd Person Singular

  • Date:
    October 1, 2005


    Written by: Alan Ayckbourn
    Directed by: John Tillinger
    Produced by: Manhattan Theatre Club
    Cast: Mireille Enos (Eva), Clea Lewis(Jane), Sam Robards (Geoffrey), Alan Ruck (Sidney), Deborah Rush (Marion), Paxton Whitehead (Ronald) and Sam Robards (Geoffrey).
    Synopsis: Three couples, three kitchens, three successive Christmas Eves: welcome to the world of Alan Ayckbourn�s comedy of social class and marriage on the rocks.

    What the critics had to say.....

    BEN BRANTLEY of the NEW YORK TIMES says �The characters often feel more like props than people. The performers assume the right postures, say their lines on cue, even approximate the correct, class-conscious English accents. By and large, though, you have the sense of a talented, appealing ensemble waiting for some whimsical lightning bolt to shock it into a state of inspiration.�
    HOWARD KISSEL of the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS says " Begins as almost outlandish farce and ends on a tone both unsettling and cruel. If this inconsistency is jarring, theatergoers should blame the director, John Tillinger, rather than the author."
    CLIVE BARNES of THE NEW YORK POST says "Experienced Ayckbourn hand John Tillinger ups the ante for a rather subtler, but still riotously funny, style of comedy."
    ELYSA GARDNER of USA TODAY says "There is pathos underlying all these wacky shenanigans, and it's to the credit of Singular's author, director and cast that this Manhattan Theatre Company production avoids the kind of jarring sentimentality that more high-minded domestic comedies can flirt with."
    MICHAEL SOMMERS of STAR-LEDGER says "Ayckbourn's character-driven humor is wry to the point of bitterness. By aiming simply for the ha-has, director John Tillinger misses the truth that gives the play and its people resonance. This too-brisk production succeeds only in its silliest moments because viewers haven't been made to care anything about the characters. By its mighty bleak third act, what should be touching looks merely ridiculous."
    JACQUES LE SOURD of the JOURNAL NEWS says "Maybe there are things we've all stopped laughing at, like spousal abuse, suicide and alcoholism. But isn't it hard to believe we ever did laugh at these things? In any case, we're not laughing now. And the atmosphere you'll find at the Biltmore these nights is more like what you'd find at a funeral home."
    LINDA WINER of NY NEWSDAY says "The results are three deftly performed, technically meticulous, mildly amusing little sketches separated by two energy-sapping intermissions. Things culminate in a nicely nasty twist of class revenge."
    MICHAEL KUCHWARA of ASSOCIATED PRESS says "The play requires delicate handling, a balancing act of considerable skill by a sextet of actors. This less-than-precise production, courtesy of Manhattan Theatre Club, isn't quite up to the task, tripped by some overacting and the broad direction of John Tillinger."
    FRANK SCHECK of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER says "The elements are all there, including a veteran director of Ayckbourn's works (John Tillinger) and a first-rate cast of performers who already have proved their mettle when it comes to farce (Paxton Whitehead and Deborah Rush, among others). But the ingredients somehow fail to jell, with the result being that the production achieves neither the laughs nor the pathos for which it strives."

    External links to full reviews from newspapers

    New York Times
    New York Daily News
    New York Post
    USA Today
    Journal News
    NY Newsday
    Associated Press
    Hollywood Reporter