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Photo: First Pic of Cast for Ayckbourn's Absent Friends

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Kara Tointon returns to the West End stage in Absent Friends at the Harold Pinter Theatre from 9 February (previews from 26 January 2012). The role follows her outing as Eliza Doolittle alongside Rupert Everett in Pygmalion at the Garrick Theatre last year.

Tointon appears alongside Reece Shearsmith, Elizabeth Berrington, Katherine Parkinson, David Armand and Steffan Rhodri in Jeremy Herrin's revival which will play a limited West End season until 14 April 2012.

Alan Ayckbourn's 1974 play premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough and transferred to the West End's Garrick Theatre a year later. The play 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 of Absent Friends. Photo credit: Simon Turtle.

Former EastEnders star Tointon will play the cruel-minded Evelyn, who has had an affair with her husband's married friend. Colin will be played by League of Gentlemen star Reece Shearsmith, who was recently seen in Betty Blue Eyes.

Katherine Parkinson, who plays Diana, is best known for her British Comedy Award-winning performance as Jen in Channel 4's The IT Crowd and recently appeared in Ayckbourn’s Season’s Greetings at the National Theatre.

The cast is completed by Elizabeth Berrington (Abigail's Party) as Marge, Steffan Rhodri (The Kitchen Sink, Gavin and Stacey) as Paul and David Armand (TV's Sorry I’ve Got No Head and Fast and Loose) as John.

Jeremy Herrin is associate director of the Royal Court where he directed the UK premiere of David Hare's The Vertical Hour and Richard Bean’s The Heretic and Polly Stenham's award-winning That Face which transferred to the West End. His other recent theatre credits include Shakespeare's Globe's production of Much Ado About Nothing starring Charles Edwards and Eve Best.

Olivier and Tony award-winning playwright Alan Ayckbourn has written more than 75 plays, over half of which have been produced in West End as well as on Broadway. Artistic director of Scarborough's Stephen Joseph Theatre from 1972 to 2009 and a National Theatre associate from 1986 to 1988, he was knighted for services to the theatre in 1997.


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