Fringe Box



Review: Abigail’s Party – Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Published on: 26 Mar, 2013
Updated on: 26 Mar, 2013
Abigail's Party- katie lightfoot, hannah waterman, martin marquez

Abigail’s Party- Katie Lightfoot, Hannah Waterman, Martin Marquez and Emily Raymond

by The Stage Dragon

It’s orange and brown, so of course it’s the 1970s. The  instantly recognisable  colour scheme greets the audience upon arrival to Abigail’s Party, accompanying a brilliant set of a typical living room from that decade.

After much success in the West End, Lindsay Posner’s touring version of this classic, satirical comedy doesn’t disappoint.

Mike Leigh’s cleverly written text is set in “theoretical Romford” very deliberately within the commuter-belt to show the varying social classes at the time. We see Beverly, Hannah Waterman and her husband Laurence, Martin Marquez host a drinks evening for their neighbours, two of which have newly moved into the area and the other, Susan, Emily Raymond, whose daughter Abigail is having a party across the road.

Abigail's Party Hannah Waterman and Samuel James

Abigail’s Party Hannah Waterman and Samuel James

Throughout the play, as the alcohol flows amongst the characters, we see the various relationships develop. Such a small cast allows to study the effects in detail. Not once do the cast fall into the easy trap of  acting  in exaggerated fashion especially tempting perhaps when performing such outrageous personalities.

Instead, the atmosphere very subtly changes as the evening wears on, enabling us to believe the actors however extreme some eventually become. This is done with excellent control of energy and pace from the whole cast and a very slick sound crew.

Waterman is brash, intrusive and opinionated and dominates the action perfectly as the evening’s host, Beverly. Her emotions chop and change rapidly depending on which character she is interacting with and is exhausting to watch, just as I imagine Leigh intended.

Martin Marquez as Beverly’s exhausted and over-worked husband Laurence is a delight to watch as he awkwardly dances with guests and attempts to hold civilised conversations over Beverly’s loud and invasive music.

Tension grows throughout the play between Beverly and Tony, Samuel James – as Beverly unashamedly flirts with Tony in front of both their partners. Samuel James’ portrayal of the very straight, one-word man that is Tony, is hilarious to watch and as the play progresses his emotions develop; slightly and subtly.

Emily Raymond and Katie Lightfoot are  equally  good, and all five actors work well together to present a very amusing play and then reveal, in the final scene, a twist, just to keep everyone on their toes!

It is easy to tell why this play has become a modern classic and has been much loved since it was first performed in 1977. A well gelled cast, excellent direction from Posner and brilliant writing from Leigh all make up the ingredients for this entertaining situation comedy. Playing till Saturday, March 30th, I would recommend seeing this before it moves to its next tour venue.

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