Past and present collide at the tea party from hell.
Five old friends rally round to support their mutual friend Colin after the sudden death of his fianc?Organising a tea party to welcome him back proves to be the trigger for unresolved tensions among the group to resurface with a vengeance.
When Colin arrives, the others are baffled to find that, far from needing their help, he is blissfully happy with his memories of the time he spent with his fianc?His presence makes it uncomfortably apparent that it is the others in the group who need consoling for their lost dreams and disintegrating marriages.
With the action unfolding in real time, Ayckbourns dissection of middleclass illusions has never been more acute. More ambitious than just pure comedy or farce, Absent Friends is a bittersweet masterpiece.
If it is the saddest and most moving thing he has written, it is also the most clear-sighted and the funniest. Sunday Times
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