Abigail’s Party

By Mike Leigh, directed by Geoff Hunt

30th April – 3rd May 2014

Performed by Tracey Ashford, Calum Grant, Helen Hodgson, Ross Scott and Edwige Wilson.

This play remains in the consciousness of British audiences due to the iconic performance of Alison Steadman as Beverley. This is a benefit and a burden when electing to recreate the piece. It is commonly remembered as a comedy farce. However, this is a misplaced expectation as it is often forgotten the original has equal measures of comedy and darkness. When producing this play I wanted to meet the audience’s expectations and chose to heighten the comedic elements to give a light touch. To do this I created a slightly abstract set to remind the audience they were watching absurd situations, raised the profile of Ange and Laurence, supposed that Tony had had “an adventure” when visiting next door and that Sue was French. This spread the comedic load across the characters to give leverage to the numerous cringing social etiquette faux pas committed in the play. The final scene was cut down and devised to become more farcical. Beverly was expertly played by Tracey Ashford who created a fresh take on the character as she took the audience on a journey with an alcohol driven obsessive host crashing with bitter venom (or should that ‘lemon’?!) into the showdown scene. The audiences loved the show and many were convinced it was the show they remembered from the television version. They went home happy but a little deceived.

Geoff Hunt