Enjoying its first preview performance on Thursday 26th January 2012, the iconic Harold Pinter Theatre in London played host to legendary English playwright Alan Ayckbourn's seminal stage play 'Absent Friends.'
The story of 'Absent Friends' centres around a group of friends, all on very different paths in life, who come together at a tea party in an effort to cheer up central character Colin, a recent widower. Set in real time, as the play develops, each character's story is revealed and delved into further. Problems such as infediltiy, marital stress and unstable domestic and family life are soon made apparent to the audience and a interesting contrast is seen to widower Colin, who is surprisingly happy and contempt with life despite the loss of his fiancee'.
Alan Ayckbourn is considered a national treasure in the literary world and his work has been regarded revolutionary due it's focus and keen observation of the minutiae of everyday life. 'Absent Friends' was introduced to the theatre world over 35 years ago and with this exciting new production, it has found a new life and a new and much younger audience. This production at the Harold Pinter Theatre boasts a talented cast that features star of British comedy 'The League of Gentleman' and writer of 'Psychoville', Reece Shearsmith as Colin. Showcasing some of Britain's top comedic and acting talent, the play also stars 'IT Crowd' star Katherine Parkinson as Diana, Steffan Rhodri, who played the small but memorable part of Dave Coaches in hit comedy 'Gavin and Stacey' and former 'Eastenders' actress and 'Strictly Come Dancing' champion Kara Tointon as Evelyn, who is no stranger to the stage, after making her West End debut back in March 2011 as Eliza Doolittle in the much loved stage play 'Pygmalion' by George Bernard Shaw. Directed by Royal Court Associate Director, Jeremy Herrin, a great deal of excitement and anticipation has lead up to the play's preview performance with the show creating a lot of buzz in it's rehearsal period.
With this momentous evening, WinkBall video reporters Zoe and Stefan were at the Harold Pinter Theatre for the performance of 'Absent Friends'. Speaking to theatre fans who had come to see the show, fans were asked a variety of questions about the play and the hype that surrounded it. Would big star names such as Kara Tointon and Reece Shearsmith fare well on the stage? With the work of Alan Ayckbourn being widely well known, what did they know of 'Absent Friends' as a play and had they seen any other Ayckbourn plays performed before? After the performance, reporters were also be asking fans how their evening was and what they thought of the performance?