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Discuss Ayckbourn's presentation of the three wives in 'Absent Friends'

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2nd June 2007 Discuss Ayckbourn's presentation of the three wives in 'Absent Friends' 'Absent Friends' is a short play written by Alan Ayckbourn in 1974. This play tells of the relationships between three different couples each displaying their own individual problems that occur within their marriage. The six characters meet at Diana and Paul's house for afternoon tea, waiting for an old friend (Colin) to arrive and with the pressures and combine troubles of the marriages, this leads to a very strained atmosphere in which 'the cream' incident arises. After reading and studying the play, I believe that Marge and Gordon have the most stable marriage although we do not meet Gordon in person, only by several telephone conversations. The reason I think this is because they care for each other however Marge is very overprotective towards her hypochondriac husband Gordon, who seems to lie in bed all day and have various accidents with hot water bottles and cough mixture. Marge also refers to her husband as 'Jumjums' which shows the audience her obsession for care for him, and how she treats him like the child which she never had. Marge's character shows a talkative, confident and overall bubbly person in the respect that she manages very well on her own. ...read more.


Heartless, cruel and disgusting". Marge then involves Evelyn and John's baby Wayne. This makes the reader sympathise with the child which gives more affect to the play. Marge looks into the pram and says "Poor little child. If only he knew..."You're just a heartless little tart". Evelyn's personality is very much the opposite of that of Marge, mainly through her long lasting silence. This is probably due to the secret affair she is having with Diana's husband. Her silence also suggests to the audience and cast that her relationship with her own husband, John, is almost non-existent. I would imagine that Evelyn gets easily bored with her husband and she displays this throughout the play by saying "Sit down for heavens sake", "go away" and "I'm not doing that for my bloody husband, he can stuff it". This suggests that they have a very weak relationship and that at the moment their marriage is not working. Marge feels sorry for Evelyn's husband John. Although his motto is "Business before pleasure" and because of the lack of 'excitement', Evelyn is getting bored, Marge says to Evelyn, "Poor John", "God help him being married to you". Evelyn chooses to ignore most of the things which are being said at the tea party and continues to sit silently, reading her magazine, and being totally uninterested in what is happening around her. ...read more.


In Marge and Gordon's case, Marge appears to be the 'boss' in their relationship, with Gordon being permanently ill in bed. By the way she treats him and with his nick name "Jumjums", this displays her embarrassing amount of affection towards him which results in their marriage being loving but distant. With Diana and Paul's relationship they have the problem that Paul is having an affair however this is influenced by Di being in control of the happenings within their marriage which would normally be a joint decision in a stable relationship. Also due to the fact that Paul sent their children to boarding school has had a great impact on the way they interact with each other with little talk between themselves. John and Evelyn's relationship, to me - as the audience, I think they have the weakest relationship. John appears to be oblivious to what is going on around him which makes Evelyn worry more about herself which gives her a selfish temperament in which Marge and Diana dislike. Evelyn is uninterested in everything expect her magazine and her long lasting silence illustrates a guilty conscience. Throughout the play, Ayckbourn suggests that each individual character has problems - like any normal person, and he shows these troubles within their marriage. This makes each of the marriages imperfect in one way or another which I believe Ayckbourn is trying to demonstrate, suggesting that there will never be a perfect relationship. ...read more.

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