Although touted as the “fall of the British upper classes,” the play is really a look at small town politicking in suburban England in the early seventies. These days though, being middle class is kind of like upper class, if you get my meaning, but I digress.
We peek into the lives of three couples: the young, the middle aged and the well established as they navigate the social pecking order over three horrible Christmas parties. In three acts, we’re privy to three kitchens and each couples quirks.
It’s 1972, and the men have careers, but the women don’t. Our first kitchen is set in the modest home of our most ambitious social climbers, and the youngest couple, Mr. and Mrs. Hopcroft. Jane (Samantha Evans) nervously cleans as her husband, Sidney, a housing developer (David Berger-Jones), once a navy commander, tells her the kitchen looks “ship shape.” They count the minutes until their important guests arrive, the Jackons, the middle aged architect and his pill-popping wife, and the Brewster-Wrights, the banker and his gin swilling authoritarian wife. In a comedy of errors, fly spray is left out accidentally, (Heavens!) and absurdly, rather than being a point of embarrassment for our manic lady of the house, our most socially well established Mrs. Marion Brewster-Wright (Stephanie Clayman) uses the stuff as a perfume.
In the second act, we get even more physical black comedy with Ronald Brewster-Wright (Steve Barkhimer) accidental electrocution and several failed attempts at suicide by Eva Jackson (Liz Hayes) because her smary womanizing husband Geoffrey (Bill Mootos) is leaving her.
In our last most beautifully appointed kitchen we get that glimpse at the decline of the upper classes, since Mrs. Brewster-Wright, a drunk recluse, and Mr. Brewster-Wright an ineffectual in denial, have lost all social graces and are living in the cold without heat.The piece de resistance is the last scene where the once masters of the social order become the puppets. The Hopcrofts, now sporting the trappings of wealth, Sidney in a tux and Jane in a fur coat make the older couples dance in an absurd party game while they control the music and the conditions.
The costuming (Leslie Held), with a Marlo Thomas flip a la “That Girl” on (Samantha Evans), a leather jacket and mustache sported by (Bill Mootos) that just reeks of the dry look and smarmy early seventies, and long flowing hippy-dippy Indian print pantsuit worn by (Liz Hayes) set the time spot on. The ensemble cast is terrific, directed by Daniel Gidron and their interpretation of Sir Alan Ayckbourn’s “Absurd Person Singular” really works to place their play appropriately in 1972. A fun absurdist look at the rise and fall of the British middle classes from a long time ago that still has poignant lessons for today.
The Nora Theatre Company
Absurd Person Singular is up until 8/25/13.