Meanwhile, at its north London home, Abigail's Party is currently taking a break (during the run of the already scheduled Counting to Infinity educational children’s show), but will return from 14 October to 9 November 2002. The revival opened at Hampstead Theatre, where it was devised and premiered in April 1977, on 17 July 2002 (previews from 10 July) and was initially booking up to 14 September only.
At the New Ambassadors, Abigail's Party follows Debbie Isitt's The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband, now finishing on 30 November, which, ironically, stars Mike Leigh’s wife Alison Steadman, who starred and first found fame in the 1977 premiere production of Abigail's Party.
The anniversary revival 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. 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