Story added: 2:29pm Wed Jan 23, 2013
Time to party like it's 1977
Monday 21st January, 2013 - Theatre Royal, Nottingham
By Sharon Hodkin
Abigail's PartyThe cast of Abigail’s Party, left to right, Katie Lightfoot, Hannah Waterman, Martin Marquez and Emily Raymond.
It’s party time in suburbia — but not everyone is going to have a good time as audiences step back in time to the 1970s for the classic Abigail’s Party at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal this week.
The Abigail in question is a teenager hosting a party for 25 to 80 friends and acquaintances at her mother’s house, although her party is heard rather than seen. Instead, the focus is on Beverly and Laurence’s soiree across the road.
In 1970s style, there is alcohol with ice from the drinks cabinet, nibbles on cocktail sticks and music on a record player.
The party’s host is Beverly (Hannah Waterman) the house-proud wife who freely admits she is hopeless at domestic tasks. She has invited her new neighbours, Angela and Tony, and Sue, whose daughter is hosting the party across the road.
Waterman is brilliant as the hostess who won’t let her guests say no, particularly when it comes to alcohol and cigarettes, and subtly impresses her supposed superiority on her husband and guests.
Laurence is played by Martin Marquez, who is excellent as the hen-pecked husband who becomes more neurotic as the night wears on — until he has one tirade too many.
Angela (Katie Lightfoot) comes across as immature and eager to please, especially her husband (Samuel James) a man of few words but a quick temper, but she gradually comes into her own.
Middle-class Sue (Emily Raymond) ever anxious about Abigail’s party, is the quieter of the guests but her facial expressions are great as she gets caught in the cross-fire between Beverly and Laurence.
While the evening starts off in a civil manner, with talk of fitted carpets and work, tensions mount when the alcohol starts to take effect and Beverly flirts with Tony.
It is a play with very little action. All the emphasis is on the characters, brought out by Mike Leigh’s writing and the excellent acting of the small but talented cast. Togther, they create a great but subtle laugh-out-loud comedy.
It may have been written in 1977 but it is still a classic. Abigail’s Party is at the Theatre Royal until Saturday — SH.
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