Published: Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Phoenix soars with ‘Absurd’

  • Eric Helland and Melanie Calderwood in Phoenix Theatre’s production of “Absurd Person Singular.”

    Photo by James Sipe

    Eric Helland and Melanie Calderwood in Phoenix Theatre’s production of “Absurd Person Singular.”

Outstanding. Laugh out loud funny. Phoenix’s best yet.
Probably London, 1970s: Three couples in three kitchens on three successive Christmas Eves in three scenes in three acts. Time passes. Lives change.
The structure is straightforward. The characters are easy reads. The story line is pretty much linear; no surprises there.
However, the comic sense sets it apart. In “Absurd Person Singular,” British playwright Alan Ayckbourn targets what he targets best: manners and morals. In this case, those that operate in the social world behind the scenes of big business.
Watch CNN. The script was prophecy 40 years ago. Today it is fact.
First time Pheonix director Dan Jacoby makes his Northwest debut with the play, nailing Ayckbourn’s uncanny way with what makes people laugh.
Sound effects are gloriously hilarious. The acting, pacing, continuity, everything works together, emphasising the “Absurd” in “Absurd Person Singular.”
As for the cast, did someone say amazing?
Eric Helland is the woman-charming architect, Geoffrey; Susan Connors is the pill-addicted lush, Eva. Talk about a dynamic duo.
Christian Ver and Kayti Barnett put together a perfect master-slave relationship; Ver as Sidney, the “everything’s got to be perfect, kid” looking for contacts to build his contracting business; Barnett as Jane, the bundle of nerves, “can’t you see I’m trying?” wife. Ring any bells?
And Christopher Shine as Ronald and Melanie Calderwood as Marion highlight insights as the tired out, seen it all, done it all banker and his eccentric wife.
This is British accents and British humor shaping social commentary. It is thoughtfully staged and artfully articulated. I am still laughing.
Reactions? Comments? Email Dale Burrows at or
‘Absurd Person Singular’
WHEN: Through June 17
WHERE: Phoenix Theatre, 9673 Firdale Ave., Edmonds
TICKETS: $18.50 general, $15.50 seniors/students/military, available at 206-533-2000 or