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Review: Absent Friends

Harold Pinter Theatre

    If beneath Terry and June's cheery sitcom personalities there beat a heart of bleak dissatisfaction, they might have looked something like Paul and Diana, central characters in Absent Friends.

    In Alan Ayckbourn's 1974 play, the couple host a tea party in honour of Colin - superbly played by Reece Shearsmith like a cardigan-clad Ronnie Corbett - who unwittingly throws verbal hand grenades into polite conversation.

    Colin is remarkably cheery for a man mourning his recently drowned fiancée. Meanwhile, Diana is falling to pieces over Paul's affair with one of the guests, Evelyn. Jeremy Herrin's production is excruciating in the best possible sense of the word.

    Boston had more peaceful tea parties than this.

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