Abigail’s Party at the Royal & Derngate, Northampton Review

4-9 March 2019

Reviewed by Jayne and Alex Wiggins

Abigail’s Party, written by Mike Leigh and directed by Sarah Esdaile, is a comedy classic based on quintessentially British humour, class and tension. It stars Jodie Prenger as Beverley, Vicky Binns as Angela and Daniel Casey as Lawrence.

The scene was set in spectacular fashion as the audience looked through the window of 1970s suburbia with it’s clad exterior and 70s interior. I was already taken aback by the set before the show even started! The furniture and decoration took me straight back to my grandparents’ home where all the ‘mod cons’ – fold down bar, telephone, leather suite – were there for the world to see how up to date they were! We are looking into Beverley and Laurence’s home where an adult party is to be held as the next door neighbour’s teenage daughter – Abigail – throws her own 15-year-old loud party.

Whilst this could have simply been a play about the throw back 70s, it was never written as such. The audience are indeed taken back to the fashion of the 70s but this play could be set in any modern British suburban home, where the competing of classes and neighbours is never far away from many social gatherings!

Abigail’s Party
Jodie Prenger (Beverly), Vicky Binns (Angela) and Dan Casey (Lawrence)

The five characters – married couple Beverley and Laurence, recently married couple Angela and Tony and recently divorced Sue – are all at various stages of relationships and none seem happy. The humour  of our own relationships is not lost on the audience as we peer into the everyday lives which escape into our fake social lives when drink is involved! Though a comedy – the sadness and irony of this situation was not lost as we watched inappropriate flirting, competition and jealousy before the finale tragedy.

The music throughout the show keeps the audience in party mode, though voyeuristic, it also feels as though any one of us could be at that party, watching, envious of wealth, class or simple perceived happiness. A feel good show with a touch of irony and tragedy which makes this a very worthy play to get out and see.

Rating: 5/5

Tickets cost from £11 (booking fees map apply).

Abigail’s Party is at the Royal & Derngate in Northampton from 4-9 March 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit www.royalandderngate.co.uk or call the box office on 01604 624811.

Royal & Derngate, Guildhall Road, Northampton, NN1 1DP | 01604 624811

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