Woman Makes Way for Abigail at New AmbassadorsDate: 20 September 2002
Alison Steadman will be replaced by a version of her younger self at the West End's New Ambassador's Theatre this autumn. The closing date for Steadman's latest production, The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband, has been brought forward a week to accommodate the transfer of Hampstead Theatre's revival of Abigail's Party, the Mike Leigh cult classic in which Steadman starred and first found fame 25 years ago.
Debbie Isitt's The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband - which just opened to the press this past Monday, 16 September 2002, following previews from 9 September - will now finish at the theatre on 30 November, rather than 7 December as originally announcced, with Abigail's Party moving in in early December, with exact dates to be announced.
A spokeswoman for Isitt's black comedy about a marital breakdown, which co-stars Daisy Donovan and Michael Attwell, told Whatsonstage.com that, rather than call it a day, the production will seek an alternative home. Despite mixed reviews, she said, The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband "is doing fantastic business. Sales are very good and the audience is very enthusiastic. (Producers) Qdos and Clear Channel will be looking to transfer the show and at the moment are open to offers."
The 25th anniversary production of Abigail's Party opened at Hampstead Theatre, where it was devised and premiered in April 1977, on 17 July 2002 (previews from 10 July) and was originally booking up to 14 September only. It has twice extended at the north London venue, where is now booking to 9 November 2002 (with a break from 29 September to 13 October).
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. Directed by David Grindley, it stars Elizabeth Berrington as excruciating hostess Beverley, the part originated Steadman, Leigh's wife. She's joined in the cast by Rosie Cavaliere (as Angela), Wendy Nottingham (Sue), Jeremy Swift (Laurence), and Steffan Rhodri (Tony).
After its original Hampstead premiere, Leigh's multi-award social satire about the pretensions of the nouveau middle class, was filmed as a BBC Play for Today and became a cult hit, spawning productions all over the world. It is now a GCSE set text.
- by Terri Paddock