WATCHING Alan Ayckbourn’s biting social comedy Absurd Person Singular may be a side-splitting night out for the audience but it’s not quite such a riot for the cast, according to actress Deborah Grant, who has one of the leading roles in the play, coming to Blackpool Grand Theatre from Monday.

“It's a very funny play, but Ayckbourn is notoriously difficult to perform, so it’s like climbing a mountain every evening,” said Deborah.

“I did another Ayckbourn play, Bedroom Farce, and I remember director Peter Hall saying: ‘If you’re anxious and neurotic that’s absolutely right. That’s the way you’re meant to be when you're playing Ayckbourn’.”

The play is set at Christmas party time at the Hopcrofts’ but the only present they want is to succeed in scaling the social ladder. Havoc ensues at the drinks party they hold on Christmas Eve to impress their high-powered friends — but that’s nothing compared to what happens over the next two years when the friends return their hospitality.

Featuring an all-star cast including Lisa Kay (Heartbeat), Elizabeth Carling (Casualty, Goodnight Sweetheart), Matthew Cottle (Game On), Stephen Beckett (Coronation Street and The Bill), and Robert Duncan (Drop the Dead Donkey), the play is staged in celebration of Ayckbourn’s 50th year on the stage.

It is performed in three acts, which has confused some theatregoers, said Deborah.

“We have two full intervals so it’s a shock for the audience because nowadays nearly everything has just one interval. We’ve had a few people leave after the second act, thinking it was over!”

Deborah trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama and her many West End appearances include The Italian Girl, Don’t Just Lie There – Say Something, Watch on the Rhine and Lips (both National Theatre), Present Laughter and An Ideal Husband.

She also has numerous TV credits, including a soon-to-be-aired stint in Holby City.

“I'm Patsy Kensit’s mother,” explained Deborah.

“I appeared at her wedding and I appear again in November on a rather more sombre note, but I'm not allowed to give the plot away.”

Although Deborah has worked in the industry for many years she does not have the level of fame which warrants great press attention — something she is grateful for.

“When I was young and successful the paparazzi weren't like they are today,” she said.

“There’s a sort of bloodthirst now which has come with the development of all these chat magazines which barely existed when I was young.

“I feel lucky that I lived in a different era. I did get people coming and watching me do my washing in the launderette — and that soon became tiresome, but I wasn’t followed about to the same degree as people are now as soon as they get any sort of notoriety.

“The sad thing is it's so destructive most of the time. They just want to see if they can get a bad photo, or a drunk photo, or a photo of someone showing their knickers. They don’t celebrate people they just want to knock them down.”

Deborah lives what she calls a very “normal” life.

“I love watching telly and looking after my grandchildren and I’m very involved in my local church. I'm a flower arranger there. I live a very normal life and I'm very happy doing so.”

l See Deborah in Absurd Person Singular, Blackpool Grand Theatre, from October 12 to 17. For tickets call box office on 01253 290190 or visit