This revival of Abigail’s Party is an enormous success, taking us back to a late 1970’s suburbia (Walthamstow) and to a time when house prices were £21,000, trousers were flared, furniture was G-Plan – with the mandatory cocktail cabinet in the room divider – and Demis Roussos was at his height. It’s a huge romp of a comedy where middle class social standing and aspirations are dissected. The pace is fast, and the five characters all score off each other perfectly.
Scratch the veneer though and marital disharmony lurks only slightly below the surface.
Archetypal “Essex Girl” Beverley (Jody Prenger) and estate agent Laurence (Daniel Casey) her hen-pecked husband, are hosting a drinks party – complete with the obligatory cheese and pineapple on sticks – for new neighbours Angela (Vicky Binns) and Tony (Calum Callaghan), a nurse and ex-footballer turned computer operator, who have given up smoking. Long standing nervous neighbour Sue is also invited, and reluctantly attends, so she can take refuge from her daughter Abigail’s party which we hear off-stage.
Beverley is a galleon in full sail, and plies everyone with drink, which loosens everyone’s tongues. She sweeps any and all reservations aside and the results are hilarious. This isn’t a time of political correctness though, and some lines come across as a bit blunt in our supposedly more enlightened times. The pace quickens into a roller coaster ride as the drink (and tobacco) takes further hold of everyone and hurries us along to the fateful end.
It's a great evening out and everyone on stage was very good indeed – even when things went slightly wrong towards the end.
Abigail’s Party continues at Manchester Opera House until the 13th of April.