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London Classic Theatre's 15th Anniversary Season to Continue with ABSENT FRIENDS, Now Extended

Following a successful Spring/Summer tour, London Classic Theatre's Artistic Director Michael Cabot today announces a 14-week extension of Alan Ayckbourn's Absent Friends, as part of the company's 15th Anniversary Season. In its most ambitious programme to date, the company will open a second leg of Absent Friends on 19 August 2015, followed by a 12-week UK & Ireland tour of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot from 9 September 2015.

Cabot said today, "I am thrilled to announce that our 15th Anniversary Season continues with another 14 weeks of Alan Ayckbourn's Absent Friends. The Spring/Summer tour generated a wonderful response from audiences up and down the country. The tour did excellent business and for us, there was a genuine sense of reaching a new audience with this 41-year-old play. It's been a real pleasure to see how Absent Friends remains as fresh and engaging as when it was first staged in 1974. We begin the autumn leg of the tour with three fantastic new cast members, who are currently busy in rehearsal."

John Dorney (John), Kevin Drury (Paul) and Kathryn Ritchie (Evelyn) reprise their roles from the previous tour and they are joined by Lisa Burrows (Diana), Pete Collis (Colin) and Susie Emmett (Marge).

Summer 1974. A well-intentioned tea party descends into chaos.

Wealthy, unfulfilled housewife Diana arranges a gathering of old friends to cheer up bereaved Colin, whose fiancée drowned two months earlier. Paul, her bullying, self-absorbed husband, has recently had a dalliance with Evelyn, the glamorous wife of his friend and incompetent business associate, John. The party is completed by long-suffering Marge, who has left Gordon, her hypochondriac spouse, ailing at home.

Preparations for the party spark tensions and open old wounds. As lingering resentments and deep-rooted jealousies surface, an unexpectedly cheerful Colin strolls into the mayhem.

Acerbic and painfully funny, Absent Friends explores friendship, marriage and what it ultimately means to be happy. In one of his finest plays, Ayckbourn's craftsmanship and acute social observation have never been sharper or more biting.

Alan Ayckbourn is an Olivier and Tony Award winning playwright who has written 78 plays, more than half of which have been produced in London's West End as well as around the world. Some of his best known work includes Absurd Person Singular, The Norman Conquests, Relatively Speaking, Bedroom Farce, A Chorus of Disapproval and Communicating Doors.

London Classic Theatre operates completely without subsidy and is committed to producing challenging, accessible drama of the highest quality. They stage both classic and modern classic plays, bringing an inventive, varied repertoire to audiences across the UK and Ireland.

Artistic Director and founder Michael Cabot launched London Classic Theatre as a touring company in April 2000. Their first production, David Mamet's Oleanna, opened in the 130-seat studio at Harrow Arts Centre. Over the last 15 years, they have performed to over 400,000 people at more than 200 theatres and arts centres around the UK and Ireland. They work with an exceptional core company of actors and designers as well as consistently opening their doors to new talent. The cornerstone of their work is a commitment to excellence on stage.

As Artistic Director of LCT, Michael Cabot's touring productions (2000-2015) include Entertaining Mr Sloane, Betrayal, The Importance of Being Earnest, Equus, Ghosts, After Miss Julie, The Caretaker, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Humble Boy, Abigail's Party, Nightfall, The Double Inconstancy, Old Times, Love in the Title, Frozen, Closer, Molly Sweeney, The Killing of Sister George, Someone Who'll Watch Over Me, Look Back in Anger, The Game of Love and Chance, My Mother Said I Never Should and Oleanna.

As a director, his other work includes Pera Palas (Arcola), The Power of Love (Southwark Playhouse), Marat/Sade (Arcola), Tattoo (New Grove), and most recently, a critically-acclaimed staging of Henry Naylor's The Collector at the Arcola, which previously won a Fringe First at the 2014 Edinburgh Festival.

Lisa Burrows plays Diana. Her other work for London Classic Theatre includes Katie in Love in the Title. Theatre includes: Drowning on Dry Land, Humble Boy, Night Maze (Nottingham Playhouse), Tinder Box and Silks, Spices & Spirits (Forest Forge), The Lottie Project, Puss in Boots and The Secret Garden (Polka Theatre, Wimbledon). Her television credits includes Thackeray's Women and Dreamworld. Her film roles include Baby's Angels, Playing by the Rules, David's Dream and Love Connection.

Pete Collis plays Colin. His other credits for London Classic Theatre include Robert in Betrayal. His theatre includes King Charles III (Wyndham's Theatre), Olga's Room (Arcola), The Syndicate (Chichester Festival Theatre) and Blue/Orange (Greenwich Playhouse). His television credits include Historyonics and Henry VII.

John Dorney plays John. His theatre credits for London Classic Theatre include Humble Boy and The Caretaker. His other acting credits include Flight and Peter Pan (National Theatre), Better Watch Out (Hampstead Theatre), At the Back and Out of Focus (Soho Theatre), The Revenger's Tragedy and The Stranger (Southwark Playhouse), A-Team: The Musical (Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh) and Coalition (Pleasance Edinburgh and Islington).

Kevin Drury plays Paul. His theatre credits for London Classic Theatre include The Game of Love and Chance, The Double Inconstancy, Look Back in Anger and Closer. His other credits include Romeo and Juliet, The Pastoral Symphony, The Killing Game and A Touch of Danger (UK tours) and Marat/Sade (Arcola Theatre). His television credits include Dalziel & Pascoe. Kevin has recently finished shooting a pilot for the sitcom Dead Man's Cardy.

Susie Emmett plays Marge. Her theatre credits include Inherit the Wind and I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire (New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme), Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (Salisbury Playhouse, Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds and Tour), Broken Time (Harrogate Theatre and Tour), Blonde Bombshells of 1943 (UK and International Tours), Lark Rise to Candleford (Finborough Theatre), King Arthur (Arcola Theatre), Claw (Greenwich Playhouse). Her television credits include Waking the Dead, Casualty, Doctors and EastEnders.

Kathryn Ritchie plays Evelyn. Her theatre work for London Classic Theatre includes After Miss Julie. Her other stage credits include The 39 Steps, Arsenic and Old Lace, Dear Brutus and Little Shop of Horrors (Pitlochry Festival Theatre), Accidental Death of an Anarchist (Torch Theatre) and the original cast of The Railway Children (Waterloo Station, York Theatre Royal/The Touring Consortium). Her film credits include Borrowed Memories.

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