Unfortunately, you probably won’t get into Abigail’s party, unless you’re under twenty. But Abbots Langley Players will make you very welcome at the Henderson Hall in November at their autumn production of Mike Leigh’s classic play Abigail’s Party.
It comes as a bit of a shock to realise that it is not far short of forty years since Abigail’s Party first made its appearance at the Everyman Theatre Hampstead, in 1977. It became fixed in the national consciousness later that year thanks to a memorable broadcast as BBC TV’s “Play for Today”, and confirmed the reputation of both Leigh and Alison Steadman, who took the lead role of Beverly. The TV version has had many repeats – one broadcast had an estimated audience of 15 million, and the play has been revived on several occasions, including a couple of years ago in the West End.
We never get to meet Abigail. She is holding a party and given her mum Sue instructions to make herself scarce. Fortunately Sue’s neighbour Beverly has invited her to spend the evening with her and her husband Laurence. Beverly has also invited Angela and Tony, who have just moved in across the road. It’s a nice thought, but Beverly’s idea of hospitality is to make her guests drink the maximum amount of gin in the minimum amount of time; as the evening goes on, deep tensions between the characters emerge, with both comic and tragic results.
Facing the challenge of recreating a seventies night out is a strong cast. Siobhan O’Hara makes a very welcome return to ALP in the role of Beverly with David Powell – recently seen as Henry Higgins in ALP’s production of Pygmalion – playing her long-suffering husband Laurence. Leonie Thompson, whose last role was the consul’s wife in Letter from the General, plays Angela. ALP is very pleased to welcome two newcomers: Mike Orriss as Tony and Louise Ford as Sue.
You can see Abigail’s Party at the Henderson Hall, Abbots Langley, from Wednesday 12 to Saturday 15 November at 7.45pm. There is also a matinee at 2.30pm on Saturday. Tickets cost £7.50 on Wednesday and £8 for other performances, and can be ordered from the box office on 0844 804 5354