For many in the packed house at the DPT for the first night of Abigail’s Party, it was frightening to think that it is indeed forty years since Mike Leigh’s iconic play was first performed.  The set before them was perhaps so reminiscent of the homes they knew all those years ago.  The room divider – complete with drinks cabinet –  the shag pile carpet, the vinyl records, the cheese and pineapple on sticks stuck into a foil covered orange, not to mention the plentiful supply of alcohol!

It is a period piece now – but so beautifully performed by the five-strong cast led by Amanda Abbington as the appalling hostess, Beverley!  The audience were enthralled and appalled in equal measure as the drinks party from hell degenerates into total chaos, the drama intensifies and the comedy becomes tragedy – ending on a note of total farce!  A heady mixture which, despite those oh so cringing moments, stands the test of time.  So convincing had the performance been, it led one Friend to ask a cast member if there had been much improvisation, “definitely not” came the reply with some mutterings about how unhappy that would have made Mike Leigh!  Not to mention the technical difficulties the stage management would have encountered in synchronising Demis Roussos!

The Cast: clockwise from top left: Ben Caplan, Amanda Abbington, Ciaran Owens, Rose Keegan and Charlotte Mills

It was a very enthusiastic group of Friends who gathered in the bar in anticipation of meeting Beverley, Laurence, Angela, Tony and Susan – aka Amanda, Ben, Charlotte, Ciarán and Rose!  It was an absolute joy to chat to such a friendly group of actors who gave very freely of their time.  This particular party went on for some time.

We wish them well for the remainder of their UK tour and hope to see them all back at the DPT soon!