Having loved Absurd Person Singular and especially the fine playing of a company truly at home with his work, it came as a shock to dislike the new play Surprises quite so much. After a clunky and cliched first act the play certainly improved in the second, but was finally let down by the third. Much of the problem was with setting the pice in a future that was so poorly let down by a poor set. It looked like a child’s vision of the future from 1956, it was about as futuristic as The Jetsons, no, that was better. One has come to expect so much from Chichester in terms of production values and excellence of design and this co-production with the Stephen Joseph Theater simply does not cut it. All this said, credit must be given where due and Richard Stacey’s portrayal of the android Jan is superb and the rest of this multi role playing company do the best they can with a dull and somewhat contrived plot, if one can call it a plot. How I wanted to be back in 1970’s suburbia with Ayckbourn at his best.
Chichester Festival Minerva Theatre
Andrew Kay 1 star