Alan Ayckbourn's 1974 play Absent Friends opened last night (9 February 2012, previews from 26 January) at the West End's Harold Pinter Theatre where it will play a limited season until 14 April 2012.

Marking a London stage return for Kara Tointon - last seen in Pygmalion alongside Rupert Everett - she joins an all-star cast which also includes Reece Shearsmith, Elizabeth Berrington, Katherine Parkinson, David Armand and Steffan Rhodri.

First seen at Scarborough's Stephen Joseph Theatre in 1974, transferring to the West End's Garrick Theatre a year later, Absent Friends centres on a couple who organise a gathering to comfort their friend Colin, whose fiancee has recently drowned. The problem is that the friends are far more miserable than the man they have gathered to help.

The cast and crew were joined to celebrate their opening night by guests including Christian Jessen, Roger Allam, Elliot Levey, Sheridan Smith, Alison Steadman, Michael Elwyn, Jo Brand, Hannah Tointon, Joe Thomas, Stephen Wight, Harry Peacock and Alan Davies.

TO SCROLL THROUGH ALL OF ABSENT FRIENDS's 1st NIGHT PHOTOS,
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PHOTOS BY DAN WOOLLER FOR WHATSONSTAGE.COM.