★★★★★ - Irresistible
Alan Ayckbourn’s “Absurd Person Singular,” now playing the main stage at Las Vegas Little Theatre, is an absurdist British comedy bordering on farce. It’s absurd because things happen which would never take place in reality but still mine the core of human endeavor. All of us are in flux in some manner, some on the way up the ladder and some on the way down, in a sometimes back-biting competition both in our professional and personal relationships.
Under the extremely astute direction of Rob Kastil, with the help of two off-stage voices (David Ament and Lee Meyers) six actors chew the scenery that sets Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol”—without the magic of ghosts to interfere with realism—on its head. The play takes place on three Christmas Eves: Past, present, and future; each one in a different couple’s kitchen which, as everyone knows, is the heart of a home. Kastil has expertly lead his cast in three distinctly different theatrical styles.
It’s impossible to say one performance is better than another. April Sauline (Jane), and Jake Taylor (Sidney) host the first cocktail gathering. He is an up-and-coming developer, she’s the supportive and OCD wife. In true farcical style, the antics here bring a lot of running around and slamming of doors and Taylor and Sauline never miss a single frantic beat.
Eva (Sarah Spraker) and Geoffrey (Geo Nikols) host the Act Two party. This brings us the absurdist portion of the script as he waxes on about his philandering, and her addiction to pills and alcohol. A funnier suicide scene has never been written. Or, at least it’s never had the talent of Spraker. Without a single line of dialogue she carries the entire scene brilliantly as the others go about, though unwittingly, foiling her attempts to kill herself.
Act Three takes us into the future using classic comedy with Brian Scott as Ronald and Marlena Shapiro as Marion, as they host yet another Christmas Eve. Having fallen upon hard times, Ronald sits and reads “saucy” literature while Marion hides in her boudoir until the unexpected guests begin arriving. Shapiro does drunk with just the right amount of sloppy, and Scott plays embarrassed host to perfection.
Throughout the entire, fast-paced play which never lags, these six actors use their well-honed abilities as finely tuned instruments. With the turn of the head, lift of a brow, or, as in Scott’s second act predicament, wide-eyed and shaking, the entire cast makes the most of each and every line and situation. Reacting with precise timing in both the physical and vocal, the laughs are mined to perfection. And they always hold for audience laughter yet keep the circumstance centered.
The production values are all top-notch. It’s always a bit unnerving to tackle any play that requires a dialect because actors have a tendency to slip in and out of them. Not so here. The accents are consistent throughout in location, societal position, and use. Props, costumes, and lighting all enhance the considerable feat of a set designed by Ron Lindblom. Three entirely different kitchens, each one dressed in the manner and style as befits the hosting couple. Special kudos must go to Domenick Hutchison, Ernest Medina, running crew, and Karen Gibson, Stage Manager, for turning around these massive set pieces during the two short intermissions.
If, like me and my predecessor at the RJ, you lament the typical sugar-coated fare of the holiday season, and you’ve had your fill of Scrooge and the Cratchit family, this is an excellent alternative full of fun.
Editor's note: This review was edited on 12/6/16 to reflect the correct number of stars granted by the reviewer to "5 Stars - Irresistible" after erroneously being labeled "4 Stars - Delicious"
What: Absurd Person Singular
When: 8 p.m. Thursday - Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday through December 18
2 p.m. Saturday, December 10
Where: Las Vegas Little Theatre, 3920 Schiff drive
Tickets: $21 - $24 (702-362-7996; www.lvlt.org)
Grade: ***** (Irresistible)
Producer: Las Vegas Little Theatre; Director: Rob Kastil; Sound Design: Sandy Stein; Set Design: Ron Lindblom; Lighting Design: Ginny Adams; Costume Design: Courtney Sheets; Stage Manager: Karen Gibson; Running Crew: Domenick Hutchison, Ernest Medina