Thursday, March 7, 2013

Review: (Ottawa) Absurd Person Singular

Insane Magnified
by Jim Murchison

Alan Ayckbourn says of his own work that he writes serious comedy. If by that he meant seriously funny comedy then he has properly described his work. Absurd Person Singular takes place over three successive Christmases in three different couples' homes. David Whiteley's set has different colours running through it, but it is the small furniture adjustments and the action of the actors that tells the audience that each Christmas is set in a different home. The most important elements in this type of a play are that there be doors and windows and they are present in abundance. At least one of the doors I think was in need of repair because of its emphatic slamming but I am sure it will be alright for the continuation of the run.

John P. Kelly consistently finds the right key to play in and his surefooted direction gives the actors the confidence to play with abandon.

The timing and precision required to do the play was executed terrifically well and the actors were so comfortable in their performances that it seemed like they'd already been running it a while, it was so free of opening night glitches.

David Whiteley in addition to doing the set design, plays Geoffrey. He is a sleazy architect who justifies his philandering as a mutual understanding but he clearly plays him with a smarmy sense of entitlement. Michele LeBlanc as Geoffrey's long suffering wife is a not so carefree hippie earth child who has her best moments in a suicidal funk in the second act. 

Tom Charlebois is the most reserved character as Ronald but he too gets an opportunity to have some electrifyingly funny business. Lori Jean Hodge as his wife Marion is an attention seeking drunkard marinating her remorse for her lost youth in a bottle of gin.

Melanie Karin as Jane is simply splendid. By far the most sympathetic character in the play, she adds the needed sweetness with a song in her heart and a good natured helpfulness, but is also very skilled in the broad farcical moments. Her husband Sidney is a goal oriented social misfit played beautifully by Stewart Matthews. He uses his smaller stature to full effect, cramming himself into cupboards, crouching and lurching and stretching himself up on countertops, transforming himself from a grovelling little peon to a grand puppet master. 

John P. Kelly consistently finds the right key to play in and his surefooted direction gives the actors the confidence to play with abandon. You may find underlying themes of hypocrisy, neglect, misogyny and classism in this play and that would be a bonus. What you will definitely see is absurdity put under a microscope or possibly projected through a telescope, broadly played to hilarious effect. This is an evening that is ridiculously funny and ridiculously entertaining.

runtime: approximately 2 hours 20 minutes with one intermission
Absurd Person Singular runs until March 23

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