Former Python Terry Jones takes a look at Theatre of the Absurd - the plays of Ionesco, Adamov, Beckett and others who shook the public with their surreal, seemingly irrational plays in the post war years.

What did it mean to have a stage full of empty chairs or where people change into rhinoceroses? Where the action was like a bad dream and the dialogue reduced to nonsense?

Many of these plays might now seem irrelevant, a strange kink in the history of drama - but is their legacy the surreal humour we enjoy and take for granted - the best example of which, of course, is Monty Python's Flying Circus?

Recorded partly in Paris, where in a tiny theatre two of Ionesco's plays have been in a continuous run since 1957, the programme revives the Absurd plays, finds out why they were written and sets Terry the task of placing them in the family tree of influences that culminated in zany modern comedy.

Producer: Susan Marling

A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.

Terry Jones explores what modern comedy owes to the surrealism of Theatre of the Absurd.