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Previewed 15 May 2012, opened 18 May 2012, closed 1 September 2012 at the Wyndham's Theatre in London
A major revival of Mike Leighís classic comedy Abigail's Party in London starring Jill Halfpenny, Joe Absolom, Natalie Casey, Susannah Harker and and Andy Nyman.
In 1970's suburbia, Beverly and her husband Laurence are hosting a drinks party for their neighbours. There is plenty of alcohol, an array of cheese-pineapple savoury bites and olives, and Demis Roussos on the record player. But as prejudices are unmasked and tempers flare, the evening seems headed for disaster...
This production, which was originally seen at the Menier Chocolate Factory in South East London, is directed by Lindsay Posner with designs by Mike Britton, lighting by Howard Harrison and sound by Fergus O'Hare.
"Abigail's Party is indelibly associated with Alison Steadman, so brilliant as Beverly, the nightmare hostess who anchors Mike Leighís 1977 play. But in Lindsay Posnerís exemplary revival the role belongs to Jill Halfpenny and her performance is finely tuned, even if it canít eclipse Steadmanís masterclass in nasal ghastliness... The interplay between the performers is impeccably managed. Posner has a skillful way with farce, yet also extracts pathos from Leighís writing. And Mike Brittonís detailed, very brown design captures a particular kind of Seventies vulgarity." The London Evening Standard - March 2012
"Mike Leigh's Abigail's Party is a tragicomic portrait of the hostile hostess, outwardly all gins, small-talk and cheesy nibbles; inwardly tortured, sadistic... Miss Halfpenny has the unenviable task of escaping the memory most of us have of Alison Steadman in this role. She succeeds. This Beverly is a sensual vamp, a Cleopatra of Chigwell... That cracking actress Natalie Casey de-glams herself to play plain plodder Angela. Susannah Harker, once so willowy, is a revelation as posh, matronly hipped Susan, mother of Abigail... The one trouble with Abigail's Party is that so many people know it so well that it has lost the power to surprise. But this is a jolly good production of a great play." The Daily Mail - March 2012
"This is a night of continuous guilty pleasure... Lindsay Posnerís superb production captures the palpable pain of the characters as well as their absurdity... Beverly, brilliantly played by Jill Halfpenny in a performance that is simultaneously sexy and repellent, may turn the word 'please' into a rasping threat with menaces while mercilessly bullying her husband and guests. But the actress leaves no doubt that deep down Bev is miserable and unfulfilled and probably longs for a child despite her shrill protestations to the contrary... The play's dark ending still achieves a shattering dramatic impact, even if you know it is coming, and this terrific production must surely be bound for the West End." The Daily Telegraph - March 2012
"Lindsay Posnerís vibrant, splendidly cast revival of Abigailís Party... will delight fans, while also offering invigoratingly fresh new side-lights on characterisation, and on questions such as to what degree this play is inviting the condescending laughter of the socially secure on the aspirational lower-middle and working classes. Blessed with the kind of the figure that would let her play Elvira, the ghost in Blithe Spirit, Halfpenny pins down with hilarious precision the infallibly undermining supportiveness of Beverly, who bullies her way to democratic majorities and to her draconian notion of female solidarity." The Independent - March 2012
Abigail's Party in London at the Wyndham's Theatre previewed from 15 May 2012, opened on 18 May 2012 and closed on 1 September 2012. This production was originally seen at The Menier Chocolate Factory in London where it previewed from 2 March 2012, opened on 8 March 2012 and closed on 21 April 2012.