IT might be forty years since the appalling Beverly first put Donna Summer on the turntable, stacked a plate with cheese and pineapple and plied her guests with alcohol, but Abigail’s Party is still as fresh as Beverly’s guest’s drinks, writes Imogen Buller.
Running at Malvern Theatres until tomorrow night (Saturday, April 22) Mike Leigh’s Abigail’s Party is still an undisputed classic and is well worth a trip down memory lane to see.
As the dysfunctional Beverly (Amanda Abbington – Mary Morstan in Sherlock, Miss Mardle in Mr Selfridge) stars alongside her long suffering husband Laurence (Ben Caplan – PC Noakes in Call the Midwife, Sunny Afternoon in the West End) the play takes us back to 1977 from the moment the curtain goes up.
When neighbours Sue (Rose Keegan – Stepping Out on tour, Bedroom Farce in the West End), Tony (Ciaran Owens – Mad World My Masters) and Ange (Charlotte Mills -Jerusalem) arrive the drinks party from hell begins.
As Beverly and estate agent husband Laurence get to know their new neighbours, Tony and Ange, along with nervous divorcee Sue, jittery about the bash her teenage daughter, Abigail, is throwing up the road.
As that party reportedly gets out of hand, this one too descends into chaos, and comedy, drama and tragedy combine into an iconic piece of theatre.
With Demis Roussos on the turntable and gin and tonics flowing fast, audiences drink up the gloriously retro-vibe and are sewn into the story of suburban life, warts and all.
The acting is flawless and subtle, with the small cast holding focus for the entirety of the two-act show.
Striking the delicate balance between social commentary, comedy, tragedy and farce, the evening spent with Beverly and Laurence is at times an emotional one and we learn that to most people there is far more than meets the eye.
This year marks forty years since Beverley first slow-danced her way across the shag-pile into theatrical history, but the suburban situation comedy of manners is still both fascinating, enjoyable and relevant.
As the play explores and satires the aspirations and tastes of the middle class that emerged in Britain in the 1970s, audiences both new and old are sure to find something in the ‘Play for Today’ that reflects modern day Britain and suburban life.
Tickets cost from £18.48 – £33.04 (including 12% booking fee).
Visit http://www.malvern-theatres.co.uk/events/event/abigails-party/ to book tickets and find out more.