Abigail's Party

Previewed 15 May 2012, Opened 18 May 2012, Closed 1 September 2012 at the Wyndham's Theatre in London

A major revival of Mike Leigh's classic comedy Abigail's Party in London starring Jill Halfpenny, Joe Absolom, Natalie Casey, Susannah Harker 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...

The cast for Abigail's Party in London features Jill Halfpenny as 'Beverly', Andy Nyman as 'Laurence', Natalie Casey as 'Angela', Joe Absolom as 'Tony' and Susannah Harker as 'Susan'. It is directed by Lindsay Posner with designs by Mike Britton, lighting by Howard Harrison and sound by Fergus O'Hare. This production transfers to the Wyndham's Theatre following a run at the Menier Chocolate Factory from March to April 2012.

"Mike Leigh's tragicomedy of suburban aspiration entered the popular imagination after it became a BBC television play months after it opened in 1977. Over the years it's also been accused of just being a skilful sneer job on the lower middle classes. Lindsay Posner's excellent revival proves otherwise. Yes, the observations are acute, uncomfortable, often class-bound... But cheese and pineapple on a stick is the least of it. Within these expert lulls and forced connections are universal observations about the strain of forging adult identities and partnerships... Alison Steadman casts a heavy shadow over Beverly, but Jill Halfpenny makes it her own by not trying to compete with that gorgon memory... Posner keeps it all the right side of caricature. This is a sharp, satirical play that remains as painfully funny as ever." The Times

"Abigail's Party, Mike Leigh's brilliantly cringe-making portrait of middle-class attitudes and aspirations from 1977. Originally staged at Hampstead Theatre and then televised, to a staggering 16million viewers, it became legendary, largely thanks to an unforgettable performance by Alison Steadman... A raven-haired Jill Halfpenny has slipped into Beverly's slinky lime green polyester halter-neck and she's every bit as monstrous as you remember. Perhaps more so, actually, because Halfpenny gives Beverly's control freakery, bullying and disdain an edge of real nastiness... None of the characters talks about feelings; indeed, they don't appear to think about them, but in Lindsay Posner's very funny and splendidly performed production, their wretchedness and misery bubble up through the inane babble... Mike Britton's authentic Seventies decor - cream shag-pile rug, geometric wallpaper in peach and caramel - pays homage to the decade taste forgot. Curiously enough, 35 years on, it is more retro chic than hideous. Just as the play is both a period piece and timeless." The Mail on Sunday

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.


Abigail's Party 2002 / 2003

Previewed 3 December 2002, Opened 4 December 2002, Closed 5 April 2003 at the Ambassadors Theatre in London
Transferred 9 April 2003, Closed 12 July 2003 at the Trafalgar Studios in London

David Grindley's revival of Mike Leigh's classic comedy Abigail's Party in London featuring Elizabeth Berrington.

The cast for Abigail's Party in London features Elizabeth Berrington as 'Beverly' with Philip Bird, Amelda Brown, Elizabeth Chadwick and Jake Wood. The cast up to 5 April 2003 featured Elizabeth Berrington as 'Beverly', Jeremy Swift as 'Laurence', Rosie Cavaliero as 'Angela', Steffan Rhodri as 'Tony' and Wendy Nottingham as 'Susan'. Directed by David Grindley with designs by Jonathan Fensome, lighting by Jason Taylor and sound by Gregory Clarke. This production comes into London's West End following a season at the Hampstead Theatre in July 2002.

"David Grindley's assured production reveals Leigh's inspired 1977 satire to be a truly classic comedy of manners, at once a period piece and utterly timeless. Jonathan Fensome's authentically hideous decor, a nauseating symphony of oranges and browns, pays homage, big-time, to the decade that taste famously forgot. For this ghastly party is set very precisely in the Seventies in suburbia, but while it is a sharp and wickedly funny satire of the social pretensions of aspirant lower-middleclass Beverly in particular, it also holds up a deeply unflattering but horribly truthful mirror to every one of us who has ever pretended to be posher, more sophisticated, more confident than we really are... Berrington gives a marvellously nuanced performance as overbearing Beverly... Wildly entertaining, ultimately sobering stuff." The Mail on Sunday

"Twenty-five years on, it's back in a cracking new production and it's just as funny and as cringe-making as ever. This is the play where Beverly - in her immaculate suburban home - forces drinks, cigarettes and cheese snacks on her guests, desperately trying to pretend her party - and her marriage to Laurence - isn't a failure... Elizabeth Berrington is terrific as the manipulative, randy, loud-mouthed Beverly in a repulsive limegreen dress... The rest of the cast is spot on, too... When you are not laughing, you are flinching at this near-evil dissection of suburban life from the Abba era." The Daily Express

"In the West End last night, I was thrilled as a first rate cast delivered a cracklingly fast paced comedy. As Beverley, Elizabeth Berrington triumphs with a tour-de-force performance which successfully follows in the eminent footsteps of the role's brilliant originator Alison Steadman. Jeremy Swift is extremely funny as the hubby prat Laurence. And, despite the monosyllabic nature of Tony, Steffan Rhodri garners a great many of the laughs. Full marks also to Rosie Cavaliero - who as the put-upon Nurse Ange - comes into her own when tragedy strikes. A lot of us have seen Abigail's Party before. But I loved this version which proved that after 25 years it has lost none of its power." The Daily Mirror

Abigail's Party in London at the Ambassadors Theatre previewed from 3 December 2002, opened on 4 December 2002 and closed on 5 April 2003, transferred to the Trafalgar Studios from 9 April 2003 and closed on 12 July 2003.