Abigail's 25th Marks Finale for Hampstead HomeDate: 2 July 2002
The 25th anniversary production of Mike Leigh's cult classic Abigail's Party launches tonight at the Theatre Royal in Bath before returning to London's Hampstead Theatre, where it was devised and premiered in April 1977.
Abigail's Party opens at Hampstead on 17 July 2002 (previews from 10 July) and continues until 14 September. It will be the final production in Hampstead's current "temporary" building before moving to its new, purpose-built £15.6 million facility around the corner.
Beverly and Laurence invite friends round for an excruciating drinks party as teenaged neighbour Abigail has a real bash. Embarrassment, hysteria and pathos are all part of the mix in this unflinching look at the pretensions of the nouveau riche.
After its Hampstead premiere, Leigh's multi-award winning play, now a GCSE set text, was filmed as a BBC Play for Today and became a cult him, spawning productions all over the world.
In the anniversary revival, Elizabeth Berrington (who has appeared in Leigh's films Secrets and Lies and Naked and was recently seen on stage in Top Girls) plays Beverly, the part originated by Leigh's wife Alison Steadman. Berrington is joined in the cast by Rosie Cavaliere (as Angela), Wendy Nottingham (Sue), Jeremy Swift (Laurence), and Steffan Rhodri (Tony).
The revival - a co-production between Hampstead and Theatre Royal Bath (where it runs from 2 to 6 July 2002) - is directed by David Grindley and designed by Jonathan Fensom.
Construction began in October 2001 on Hampstead Theatre's new facility, which is funded by a Lottery grant of nearly £10 million and an additional £5 million raised by the theatre itself. The Hampstead's current prefab structure, which was only ever meant to be temporary, has housed the theatre for 40 years.
- by Terri Paddock