Ayckbourn’s claustrophobic play, Absent Friends, has lost none of its ability to amuse and disturb.
Both acts take place in a stultifying sitting room as a group of ‘friends’ await the arrival of old acquaintance, bereaved Colin.
It soon becomes clear that all is not well with the married couples present as the tension ratchets up to unbearable levels.
It’s testament to Havant’s Bench Theatre that they should open to an almost capacity audience, but the chance to admire Alice Corrigan (Diana) and the comic touches of Mark Wakeman (Colin) is too good to pass up.
Others in the small ensemble cast hold up well; super fidgety John (Chris Vanstone), mother hen Marge (Sarah Parnell) and beautifully underplayed Evelyn (Charlie Potter) navigate the pace of the piece with ease.
My only reservation? Obnoxious Paul (Paul Millington) might consider turning it up a notch at first so that we can understand the effect he has had on his wife.
A very competent production. Until Saturday.