I found Abigail's Party absolutely boring, as did my son, virtually from beginning to end. One doesn't have to go to the theatre to find people behaving like them. They're all around us. The acting was OTT. Tell them they don't need to shout quite so loud, particularly 'Laurence'. The theatre is quite small. My OTT is the opera and the actors are good to listen to. I will stay with that in future. - Trevor Lewis
11 Aug 12
Having never seen the original stage show or even the TV adaptation I had no idea what the play was about. I obviously knew it was a dark comedy, but that was about it. We had brilliant seats, the Wyndhams is a very small theatre and perfectly raked in the stalls so unless you are extremely unlucky and have a giant in front of you, your view to the stage should be perfect from any seat in the stalls.
There were some very funny moments which did make me laugh but overall I felt really uncomfortable watching. I felt that I was at this gathering sitting in the lounge with them and was part of the play. I suppose saying that would mean that the standard of acting was brilliant and it was, Jill Halfpenny was amazing as the sexually frustrated housewife who took a fancy to her new neighbours husband, Tony, who was married to Angela, played by Natalie Casey. Natalie played a sort of downtrodden housewife (possible beaten – you never really find out), who is a nurse, which surprised me because I got the feeling from the way Natalie portrayed the role that her character was a Simple Simon, certainly nervous around her husband, again played brilliantly by Joe Absalom – when Beverley (Jill) offers Angela (Natalie) a cigarette, she looks sheepishly at her husband and asks if it is OK for her to have one.
On the flip side, Beverley is the dominant partner in her loveless marriage to Laurence (again a brilliant performance from Andy Nyman). She even says she married him for money as he is very good at his job, always money for clothes, makeup etc but that’s all – bragging to Angela about her having the biggest house, proper leather furniture, a silver plate candelabra, but in every other department Laurence is a bit rubbish.
The play is actually entitled Abigails Party as it centers around 5 people who are brought together because Abigail, (who you never meet) the daughter of Sue (who is the divorcee in the group) is having her first ‘grown up’ party and wanted mum out of the house. Sue, is a divorced single mum who I felt never got over her husband leaving her, she still refers to him as her husband and lives round the corner from him, she still sees him every week, even though he has since remarried. I never really understood why Sue was part of the play, she had no real part to play other than being Abigails mother.
So the first half of the play is about getting to understand the characters, the second half focuses on the relationship between each person, Beverley ( a wanna be WAG) is very seductive with Tony who is an ex professional footballer, slow dancing with him, nuzzling into him, rubbing her hands seductively up and down his thigh, whilst Laurence dances with Angela in a more, ‘dancing round handbags’ way.
Tempers get frayed, Laurence and Beverley have a shouting match about music and then art, Beverley is very shallow, only caring about being better and having better than everyone, whereas Laurence loves Shakespeare (and is very proud of his complete works, leather bound books) and art. Then Tony and Angela shout, can’t remember about what but Angela is very quick to let everyone know that she does not suffer from domestic violence. The shouting and situation feels so real that I was uncomfortable sitting there, I felt that I was intruding in something that was very personal and should only be conducted in the privacy of your own home when you are on your own.
Running through the whole show is the fact that Laurence suffers from indigestion and stress and should be calm and take things easy – which brings us to the end where he is so agitated with Beverley, (who torments him through the whole show, at one point he is making a sandwich and she is screaming at him whilst he is in the kitchen and he runs into the lounge from the kitchen with a knife and she is taunting him to stab her) who has gone off to the bedroom to bring down a painting (Laurence wouldn’t allow it downstairs because he said it was pornography), although he was happy to have it in his bedroom! And Laurence is shouting at her that nobody is interested in her painting (but underneath I think he is saying that nobody is really interested in her) when he suddenly grabs his arms, falls to the floor, whilst Tony calls an ambulance, Angela (the nurse) is giving CPR and Beverley is running around shouting and crying (maybe she does love him a bit, a moral to the end of the show?!) until Laurence dies – THE END.
Suffice to say, I thought the acting was amazing by the whole cast – but didn’t enjoy watching the play.
20 Jul 12
We joined the WOS outing for this play yesterday, and enjoyed the production very much. The actors were faultless, and the plot as excruciatingly funny as ever - though the play is definitely set in a particular era, the painfulness of the relationships is universal!! - Gill B
20 Jul 12
Went to see this on Sat 20 June...brought tickets at the theatre on the day.I too remember the orginal but went with a mixed age group and everyone enjoyed the play. Excellent from start to finish so funny so clever.
11 Jul 12
This has to be the most painful 2 hours of theatre I have sat through, a bore! - Stella
10 Jul 12
absolutely loved it, Natalie and Jill where superb. Infact the cast where all brill - kat carolan
25 Jun 12
I have known this play since the original Hampstead production and who can forget the performance of Alison Streadman, later to be repeated in a BBC TV version that hasw become a cult classic.However, I thought the performances in this production were excellent and Jill Halfpenny was a stunning and brilliant Beverley and the rest of the cast superb.Another winning West End transfer for Southwark's little Chocolate Factory. - Rob
12 Jun 12
We went Saturday night absolutely brilliant Jill
Halfpenny and Joe Absolom excellent along with the rest of the cast. - Heather Wicks
27 May 12
I saw the matinee on Sat 26 May and it was hysterically funny! Jill Halfpenny is brilliant as Beverley and looks stunning. I absolutely loved it and would definitely go back again. - Sam
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