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Published: Wednesday, June 6, 2012, 11:05 a.m.

The dark comedy "Absurd Person Singular" is a singular success at Phoenix Theatre

  • Eric Helland  and Melanie Calderwood in "Absurd Person Singular"

    James Sipe

    Eric Helland and Melanie Calderwood in "Absurd Person Singular"

I think the best line from the dark comedy "Absurd Person Singular" was delivered by Geoffrey when he was summing up his exhausting escapades:

"God! How I envy them that! You think I enjoy living out my life, like some kind of sexual flying Dutchman!"

Not only was the line pure Alan Ayckbourn, a prolific English playwright, but it was delivered with perfect blase panache by Eric Helland, one of my new favorite actors at the Phoenix Theatre in Edmonds.

Don't worry. I've still got my old favorites. I still laughed out loud watching Kayti Barnett play Jane, and I still think Melanie Calderwood, who played Marion, is a comic goddess. But this new guy Helland he was something else, playing a tall, thin lothario, all arms and legs and smarm-a-tude.

Loved it.

And that's the point I'm trying to make really. You will love the show as well.

"Absurd Person Singular" is, and, I feel like I say this a lot, one of the best comedies the Phoenix has done.

The story follows three rather dysfunctional couples over three Christmas seasons. All the action is set in each of the couples' kitchens. And through each act we observe contractor Sidney Hopcroft steadily climb the ladder of success while his once snobby acquaintances, Rodney Brewster-Wright and Geoffrey Jackson, fall to failure, rung by rung.

Apparently the whole thing turns pretty sadistically dark by Act III but in full disclosure I missed the ending due to a babysitting issue and had to drag my disappointed husband out of there (“It's not like they are going to sell our kid if we're late”).

So make sure you stay to the end because by the looks of things, there were going to be some tectonic changes.

And, so it doesn't look like I'm snubbing anyone, Christian Ver met the challenge splendidly of playing the two sides of Sidney, balancing his public “charming” face with his private persona that bordered on abusive to his sweet wife Jane.

Susan Connors, who is, lucky for us, getting to be quite a regular cast member at Phoenix, pretty much acted her face off as Geoffrey's wife Eva in the second act by using just facial expressions and barely saying a word.

And Christopher Shine did just that as Ronald, Marion's spouse.

“Absurd Person Singular” is a singular success.

“Absurd Person Singular” performs at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through June 17 at Phoenix Theatre, 9673 Firdale Ave., Edmonds. Tickets are $18.20 adults, $15.50 seniors/military. Call 206-533-2000 or Brown Paper Tickets.
Story tags » Arts, Culture & EntertainmentTheaterEdmonds

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