Abigail's Party

RICHARD PARR Abigail's Party


Abigail's Party

London Classic Theatre, Lynn Arts Centre

A near capacity audience were kept in stitches with this modern classic, essentially a look at the class system in 1970s Britain.

The audience are looking into the suburban house of Beverly Jennings and her husband Laurence who have invited their neighbours, Angela and Tony and Susan, round for drinks.

Michael Cabot's direction of Mike Leigh's famous play is superb. Paula Jennings was outstanding as Beverly and we were able to watch her awful, over-bearing character as she gradually becomes increasingly affected by her endless gin and tonics.

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Helen Jones, as Angela, was another wonderful comic portrayal as she has to cope with her monosyllabic husband Tony, played by Benjamin Warren. As the play progresses we gradually discover more and more details of their personal and private lives.

In sharp contrast to Beverly and Angela is the much more straight-laced and refined Susan who just seems to the butt of all her neighbours' intensive questions but as we eventually discover, she is actually made of stronger stuff.

Cabot's direction has a fresh quality about it and the cast brought the marvellous script to life, not only in the spoken delivery but also in the various ways the characters respond and giving knowing looks to each other.

The role of Beverly is now firmly established as a classic in contemporary theatre in the same way that every generation reinvents its own Hamlet or Lady Bracknell.

A reviewer cannot say too much about Jennings' masterful portrayal of this central figure. We all felt we have met such a character in our own lives, such was her convincing and powerful acting.

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