Absent Friends explores women, marriage and the notion of true happiness in the play. It is set in the safe vicinity of a domestic home decorated in quintessentially nineteen seventies wall paper. It begins with two women innocently gossiping. This reminds the audience of the trivialities in human nature as one pursues a pointless conversation about her shoes while the other obsesses over a suspicion over her husband’s infidelity. Their concerns ridicules women to the extent that they are portrayed as selfish and ego-centric – unwilling to actually listen and help each other but this is what adds a comic element to what would be a tragic play.
Diana (Catherine Harvey) organizes a tea party in the hope of consoling her friend, Colin (Ashley Cook) who has just lost his fiancée, Carol. He appears to be coping well, reminiscing in high spirits while his friends appear to be conversely out of sorts, their relationships quickly breaking down when Diana pours custard cream over her husband’s head in reaction to the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. The acting in the crescendo to this event feels forced and as a consequence, uncomfortable to watch since the actor’s lack any sense of believable human behavior. They come across as unnatural and exaggerated which ruins the chemistry on stage and the momentum of the play.