The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre.
September 23, 24, 25, 26 & 27, 1980.
by Alan Ayckbourn
Ralph Dawes – Paul
Margaret Ockenden – Diana
Peter Joyce – John
Miranda Bowen – Evelyn
Neil Shepherd – Colin
Joan Bearman – Marge
Stage Manager – Ronald Cheesman
Assistant – Margaret Davy
Assistant – Jill Redman
Assistant – Daphne Thornton
Assistant – Susan Whittaker
Lighting – Andrew Theaker
Lighting – Frank Hurrell
Set Construction – Alan Upton
Front of House – Frances Moulton
Box Office – Betty Dawes
Programme Design – Antony Muzzall
Programme Note #1: Absent Friends
GP wrote; “What can be said about Alan Ayckbourn that has not been said already? He is the playwright of today. Time and time again he comes up with another winner. His feel for dialogue, situation and behaviour in everyday life makes his plays extraordinary. They are funny in the way that people’s idiosyncrasies are funny, when you step aside and see them in a detached way – they ring true.
I have directed three Ayckbourn plays over the past five years – Relatively Speaking, How The Other Half Loves and now Absent Friends. Now, as before, I’ve had a very talented and happy cast. The rehearsals have been fun.
Absent Friends has some of Ayckbourn’s best dialogue and behind the laughter he is making the odd more serious reflection on the way we live today.
My special thanks for loyal support through rehearsals and the holiday interruptions to Daphne Thornton and Ronald Cheesman.”
Programme Note #2: Absent Friends
We welcome back to the Barn, Neil Shephard. Neil last appeared five years ago as Iago in Othello. This is his first piece of drama since then.
Ralph Dawes, one of our founder members, broke from Open University studies for the memorable revival, Sailor Beware last year. Absent Friends is a welcome return, now his studies are over.
Margaret Ockenden is no newcomer to you, appearing in recent seasons, in George Porter’s productions Relatively Speaking and A Day in the Death of Joe Egg.
Peter Joyce steps out again after the Summer break, as does Joan Bearman – both were in the last production, She Stoops to Conquer.
Miranda Bowen has a very quiet rôle as Evelyn, far removed from her last part as the vicar’s daughter in Arsenic and Old Lace.
Publicity #1: Absent Friends
Publication: Brighton & Hove Gazette
Publication Data: September 19 1980 issue – page 7
Text Header: “Wick welcomes absent friend”
ABSENT FRIENDS, the Wick Theatre Company’s next production, has a very appropriate theme for one of the cast.
Neil Shephard, who plays the leading rôle, has been absent from the group for five years. Mr Shephard live in Ventnor Villas, Hove, played Iago in Othello in 1975. He left the group when he moved to Algeria to teach English. Now he is back teaching French at Longhill School, in Rottingdean, and had rejoined the group.
Absents Friends by Alan Ayckbourn, is a comedy about a group of people who get together to cheer up a man whose girl friend has been drowned. But the fun begins when he starts cheering them up.
The play opens at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, on Tuesday and runs until the following Saturday.
Review #1: Absent Friends
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: October 3 issue – page 2 – K.J.
Text Header: “WIT AND TALENT”
Witty dialogue by Alan Ayckbourn and the talent of the Wick Theatre Company combined to give a fast-moving performance of Absent Friends at the Barn Theatre, Southwick.
The drama revolved around a tea party meant to cheer up Colin [Neil Shephard] whose fiancée has recently drowned. Margaret Ockenden played the hostess and distraught wife with a professional touch. She was one of the few characters able to catch the audience’s sympathy. Marge, played by Joan Bearman, seemed to be Diana’s only friend among the group. Her silly comments and flustering manner gave light relief. Ralph Dawes as the husband Paul, Miranda Bowen as Evelyn and Peter Joyce as her husband John completed the cast, who performed a difficult play to a high standard.