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Day Time Show

With Mark Dover

Review: Abigail’s Party

(Amy Downham, left, and Melanie Gutteridge in Abigail’s Party. Photo Mark Sepple)

Abigail’s Party is back home in Havering and Mike Leigh’s classic play still has the charm and wit from when it came to our attention on television more than 40 years ago.

Beverly and Laurence are hosting drinks for new neighbours Angela and Tony plus Susan, whose daughter is throwing a house party just down the road.

Juxtaposing the different classes of the 1970s, this real-time comedy is slick and sharp – plus it features some wonderfully nostalgic songs.

But those of you who remember the original BBC play might be disappointed to discover the Donna Summer track from the start doesn’t feature. The replacement track is a great song but it doesn’t have the “oomph” or sexiness to captivate the audience in the same way.

(Photo: Mark Sepple)

Abigail’s Party features strong performances from all five of its cast, who share great chemistry on the stage – particularly Melanie Gutteridge and Christopher Staines as Beverly and Laurence. Tony (Liam Bergin) is incredibly dry and monosyllabic to begin with and Amy Downham captures Angela’s scattiness perfectly.

And then there’s Susie Emmett as Susan. By no means the main character, Susie is understated as her character navigates the evening distracted by what’s happening in her own home. She’s uncomfortable with the situation but what makes it so brilliant is the subtlety.

The conflicts between the couples, as well as Susan’s worry, are a joy to watch. You almost feel like you’re in the living room with them as tensions reached simmering point. It’s not hard to see why Abigail’s Party has been nominated for four awards at the Off West End Theatre Awards.


Abigail’s Party is showing at the Queen’s Theatre until Saturday, 22 September. To book tickets, go to queens-theatre.co.uk or call the box office on 01708 443333.

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