Sewell Barn Theatre, Norwich
Mustering all the limited chic of a Seventies' drinks party, Bev and Laurence set out to impress their new neighbours Angela and Tony with cheese and pineapple on sticks, Donna Summer and chain-smoking.
As Laurence pompously tries to exert social superiority, Bev plies the guests persistently with booze in an effort to break the ice. Its not long before pleasantries are cast aside and festering marital rifts revealed.
You never actually meet teenage rebel Abigail, only her politely prim, anxious mother Sue. But the constant thud of music emanating from her party is an ominous reminder.
Sally Dixon is superb as Bev, the catty, brazenly flirtatious hostess seemingly determined to antagonize her uptight, dyspeptic husband played by David Reeves. And with seduction in the air, tempers start to flare, Sue is sick, Laurence looks set to have an apoplectic fit, and embarrassing revelations leak from the ingenuous Angela. Bev ditches subtlety in favour of blatant seduction, and surly, monosyllabic ex-soccer star Tony seems up for swinging.
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The script moves from hilariously ironic to palpably tense as their lively evening culminates with a deathly ending.
The Sewell's open staging is perfect for this show, making the audience feel privy to the domestic drama as it unfolds. And the set, complete with optic lamp, leatherette sofa, mini bar and formica worktops is excruciatingly credible. A witty poke at the pettiness of suburban snobbery, it's well-acted and well worth seeing.
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t Abigail's Party continues at the Sewell Barn from Wednesday to Saturday, March 3 to 7. See our Shows listings for details.