Abigail Parties On at Hampstead Before West EndDate: 27 August 2002
The 25th anniversary production of Mike Leigh's cult classic Abigail's Party has extended by six weeks its sell-out run at north London’s Hampstead Theatre, where it was devised and premiered in April 1977, prior to a West End transfer this December.
The revival opened at Hampstead - following a brief season at the Theatre Royal Bath, which is co-producing - on 17 July 2002 (previews from 10 July) and was originally booking up to 14 September only. That entire run sold out within days of the opening night. The production will now continue until 28 September and, after a break for the educational show Counting to Infinity, will return from 14 October to 9 November.
Abigail's Party is the final production in Hampstead's current "temporary" building before moving to its new, purpose-built £15.6 million facility around the corner. It will transfer to the West End in December 2002, though a venue and exact dates have yet to be confirmed.
In Mike Leigh’s biting social satire, 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 original 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). Abigail's Party is directed by David Grindley and designed by Jonathan Fensom.
- by Terri Paddock