abigail's party

 

Billed as a groundbreaking comedy classic this is certainly a show from the 1970s.  When you first enter the auditorium you are faced with an usual set as the house frontage is there in front of you and you can only see in through the house windows.  You see Beverly (Jodie Prenger) moving around her house as you take your seats bringing you into the story from before it has even started.

The show starts, the wall disappears and the side walls swing open, it feels like you are moved forwards to be closer to the action and you are there in the front room with all the guests.

The audience watch as Laurence (Daniel Casey) comes in and helps set up for their gathering of neighbours.  Angela (Vicky Binns) and Tony (Calum Callaghan) have just moved in across the street and this is a get to know you evening whilst Sue (Rose Keegan) comes to escape the party her daughter, Abigail, is having across the street.  

The cast are the vital ingredient to this show as the laughs come from the physical comedy they display whilst delivering the lines.  Beverly is a larger than life character who likes to give her opinion on everything and feel like she is in charge whilst Laurence is the suffering husband who occasionally looses his temper trying to keep everyone happy.

The show works because we all know people like the characters and the way it is presented makes you feel like you are in their front room watching them.  At one point I actually felt a bit uncomfortable because it felt like I was intruding into a private conversation and party the set is done so well.

At the interval I was unsure what to think of the show, I had no prior knowledge of what it was about and I felt the story had been slow to get moving.  However, that opinion had definitely changed by the end of the show as I was left desperately wanting to know what happened next.  There were some real laugh out loud moments in the second half and you are drawn into the personal stories much more.  The story is left on a real cliffhanger and I could have happily sat longer to find out what happened next.

If you remember this from its original TV airing in the 70s you are sure to love it and if you like plays it is definitely one to see.  I had an enjoyable evening and loved watching the highly talented cast in this 70s take on life.

Reviewed by Daniel Keen at the Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent.

Abigail's Party is currently touring the country until 13th April when it closes in Manchester.