BINGLEY Little Theatre’s December play - Alan Ayckbourn’s Absurd Person Singular - features several very well-known Ilkley faces, in director Jacquie Howard and actors Andy Price, David Kirk, Liz Hall and Carol Southby.

When the play was reviewed by Daily Telegraph critic Charles Spencer, he wrote “ This is a classic night of Ayckbourn. It feels almost indecent to laugh but somehow you just can’t stop yourself”. It can be described as a comic masterpiece of social climbing in 1970s suburbia; a potent mixture of farce and black comedy. Three married couples, three kitchens and three successive Christmas Eve parties. Small-time developer Sidney Hopcroft persuades his wife Jane to throw a party, anxiously hoping to impress their bank manager Ronald Brewster-Wright and wife Marion, and architect Geoffrey Jackson and his wife Eva. As the boisterous party fills the living room, one by one, the characters seek refuge in Jane’s kitchen. Class differences and naked ambition combine to darkly comic and entertaining effect. Over the next two years, the Jacksons and Brewster-Wrights take turns to host the festivities. Evenings of behind-the-scenes disasters culminate in wild comedy as Sidney’s star rises and roles are increasingly reversed. Christmases you wouldn’t want in your own home but hilarious entertainment in the theatre. Alan Ayckbourn is the most widely performed English playwright, apart from Shakespeare. Although he is now 80, his 87th play, Birthdays Past, Birthdays Present, opened this summer at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough. He has a couple more plays planned already. He loves complexity and challenge and employs an engineer’s mind in which the events of the play mesh together immaculately. And he wrote this play in two weeks whilst rehearsing another! The play will be directed by Jacquie Howard, who has been involved with amateur theatre in this part of the world for over 50 years, acting, directing and designing sets. She has worked on Ayckbourn plays in all three capacities and thinks that he writes great comedy and farce, where as a director or actor precision and timing are essential. Yet he also writes believable and complex characters that are a pleasure to play and are rewarding to work on in depth as a director. The strong cast includes well-known local actors David Helliwell (playing his 13th role in an Ayckbourn play – the first being in the first production of the same play in 1978), Sally Edwards, David Kirk, Liz Hall, Andy Price and Carol Southby. The play runs from 9 – 14 December at 7.30pm Tickets are available from the Arts Centre Box Office by telephone (01274 567983) or in person from 10am to 3.45pm Monday to Friday, or online through the website.