Spellbinding and exceptionally clever, Absent, is a theatrical production with a difference.
Maggie Morgan caused a stir back in 1957 when she won £1000 on the premium bonds. She booked herself into the best room of the Winter Gardens Hotel, the Pavilion Suite. It’s been her home for the past 50 years. New owners, Northern Leisure Holdings, are in the early stages of developing the hotel as a budget hotel and there’s no room for Maggie.
Absent is about Maggie Morgan.
The onlooker is on the move throughout the production, starting in one of the newly refurbished guest rooms. Lights dim and you’re watching Maggie through a one-way mirror. Or is it two-way? The voyeurism is disturbing.
Lights fade, cue to move into a seemingly endless hotel corridor reminiscent of a scene from Kubrick’s The Shining. An ethereal soundtrack is unsettling.
Throughout the audience walkabout, old newsreel movies play on a loop revealing episodes of Maggie’s life past, present and future. Artefacts recur in various locations. Miniature images and intricate models lead you into the next scene.
Upturned tables and chairs, stained tablecloths, discarded wine bottles, goblets, and cigarette packets litter the ballroom. That must have been one over-indulgent dinner party! A sensurround audio-visual experience of old newsreel depicts Maggie the socialite greeting partygoers at the start of the evening before its decadent demise.
Back to reality you emerge in the magnificent corridors of present day Winter Gardens. Drama lovers have been privileged to be a part of the life of Maggie Morgan and see areas of the Winter Gardens not normally open to the public.
What’s real? What’s fiction? There’s no hard and fast answer. It’s whatever you want it to be. This is thought-provoking, captivating theatre at its very best.
Absent is a banquet of sound, vision and emotion twisting and turning around every corner. A rollercoaster ride to challenge Blackpool’s Big One.