Bravo! West and cast deliver a faultless comedy

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The cast of “Absurd Person Singular”. Photo: Helen Drum

Theatre / “Absurd Person Singular”, directed by Jarrad West. At Canberra Rep Theatre until December 5. Reviewed by ARNE SJOSTEDT

FROM a purely dramatic perspective, it is really very hard to fault this Jarrad West directed Canberra Repertory production.
The script is of a high order, and the players who gave it life were all on the top of their form.
Chris Baldock managed to completely transform himself as the stolid bank manager Ronald Brewster-Wright, while a mesmerising Amy Dunham opened this play with a blush of energy and colourful performance as Jane Hopcroft.
This set the stage for a highly polished theatrical outing. Indeed, Dunham and her stage husband Arran McKenna (as Sydney Hopcroft) both maintained this energy throughout the production, bringing a particularly endearing charm.
A show set around three years of Christmas drinks, “Absurd Person Singular digs underneath the lives of its subjects and has a peek at their insecurities and foibles.
Behind the comedy, and because of it, we observe the absurd nature of the very things that make us who we are as human characters. Playwright Alan Ayckbourn writes such incredibly strong dialogue, which is a gift to each performer, that the laughter in this show poured forth, and gave the ensemble opportunity to really deliver some extremely memorable stage moments.
I’m sure people may remember for some time the moment Brewster-Wright became covered in a basket of washing.
You really need to nitpick to find much of an issue with this production, and even then these decision points were minor and did not detract from the entertainment.
Things such as breaks in the verisimilitude of the play’s time and place with some of the dialogue, set pieces or costuming. This felt like a period drama that wasn’t always. Or it was a non-period piece that seemed very attached to the time it was written.
But all that somehow seemed to add to the absurdity of the show, rather than detract from your capacity to really enjoy the feelings and comedy being portrayed by a master playwright and skilful, playful director.
Steph Roberts was bewitching as the depressive and suicidal Eva Jackson, but this show somehow belonged to McKenna and Dunham, with Baldock displaying just how good a stage actor he is. Bravo director, cast and crew.

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