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Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0DA
Ended 1 Sep 2012 after 3 months
Olivier Award-winning actress Jill Halfpenny stars in Lindsay Posner's production of the classic comedy.
Mike Leigh's classic portrait of 1970's suburbia was given a winning revival at the Menier Chocolate Factory in 2012, before transferring to The Wyndhams Theatre. Directed by Lindsay Posner (who most recently helmed the Old Vic's 2013 staging of The Winslow Boy), the adaptation recreated the play's original orange-hued kitsch stage dressing to tee, and was widely praised for summoning up just as much blackly comic hilarity and cringeworthy moments as the original. Timeout termed it a "finely judged revival" that mined the play's underlying themes of isolation and despair, while still being "horribly funny".
Taking on the role of Beverley, made so famous by Alison Steadman in the original, was Jill Halfpenny. Best known for her work on Coronation Street, Halfpenny won an Olivier Award the year before for her part in Legally Blonde and once again turned in a riveting theatre performance, exuding equal amounts of catty jealous and pent up frustration. Andy Nyman played her poor put upon husband, while Joe Absolom turned in nice detestable performance as the bullying Tony, who Beverley flirts with more and more as the alcohol keeps flowing.
Beverley is holding a gathering. Along with her husband Laurence, she invites her neighbours, married couple Angela and Tony, and divorcee Sue over for some drinks. What begins as a rather awkward social gathering soon descends into a sniping, malicious evening of pretension and snobbery, which reveals the dark heart of the middle class dream of 1970's England. Beverley plies her guests with more and more booze, flirts outrageously with Tony and lambastes her downtrodden husband Laurence. The compressed aggression of the evening ratchets up ever more, until it ends in the only way it can, in a denouement of tragic circumstances.
Previews from: 15 May 2012
Opening night: 18 May 2012
Closing night: 1 September 2012
Abigail's Party is suitable for audiences aged 12 and upwards
Two hours with one interval
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