A dark shadow is cast over Abigail's Party as Beverly, in an attempt at being the perfect hostess, creates chaos amongst her guests that ends, to put it mildly, badly. Abigail's Party, written by Mike Leigh is set in London in the 1970s. The paradox in this play is obvious as we watch Susan, Abigail's mother having an internal meltdown at the thought of what might be happening at her house. Meanwhile we watch Beverly's party falling to bits and ending far worse than can be imagined at Abigail's party.
Beverly is married to dull, highly strung, workaholic Laurence. Her only joy is spending his money and hosting alcohol fuelled parties. She invites Susan whose teenage daughter, Abigail is having a party and is not welcome at her own house. Angela and her husband Tony who have recently moved into the neighbourhood are also invited.
Any awkwardness between these newly acquainted guests is quickly diluted by the constant refilling of drink glasses and passing around the nibbles and cigarettes. Beverly has her hosting skills down pat as she strategically positions her derriere in line with her target. With the passing of time and multiple drinks, tongues are loosened and inhibitions are released resulting in an exchange of husbands and a finale that will shock.
Credit goes to Amy-Louise Anderson who played Angela. She masterfully won the audience over with her infectious mirth and perfect comedic timing. From the time she appeared on stage there was a shift in energy that overflowed to the other characters allowing them to relax and confidently move forward with convincing performances. Helen Maden who played Susan never missed a beat. Her facial expressions and body language spoke volumes. Natalie Campbell who played Beverly took a little while to warm up but then came out with all guns blazing. As Beverly, she took charge in a cool, calm and collected manner before falling apart in the grand finale. You couldn't help but find Beverly annoyingly lovable. Peter Maden was well cast as Laurence and did an admirable job of portraying the highly strung husband. Michael Denny who played Tony appeared to be the long suffering husband with a stellar past gone stale. His attempts at containing his frustration explode after a few too many drinks.
Director, Dawn China wove her magic touch that gave this production its sparkle. She chose her cast well and a dedicated crew to create a visually appealing set that took us back in time. Abigail's Party does not disappoint. There are plenty of laughs and a few shocks along the way. Abigail's Party is the party you should go to when you can't be bothered organising your own party. But make sure you book ahead and bring your own party of friends. You'll have more fun that way. Enjoy.