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WOS Radio: Halfpenny & co host post-show Party Q&A

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Last week (29 March) just under 100 Whatsonstage.com theatregoers headed to the Menier Chocolate Factory's acclaimed revival of Mike Leigh's 1977 cult comedy Abigail's Party. Many admitted to having seen the film more times than they cared to recall and some had even seen Alison Steadman when she originated the role at the Hampstead Theatre.

A comedy of manners with plenty of black humour, Abigail's Party centres on Beverly and her husband Laurence who are hosting a drinks party for their neighbours. There is plenty of alcohol, an array of cheese-pineapple savoury bites, olives and Demis Roussos on the record player. But as prejudices are unmasked and tempers flare, the evening can only end in disaster…

Following the performance we were joined by the full cast who shared their experiences of working on such an iconic piece. They all emphasised that director Lindsay Posner wanted this to be completely new and encouraged them to find their own way of presenting their characters. Jill Halfpenny who plays Beverly, the domineering hostess, spoke about how they keep a straight face in the comic scenes while Joe Absolom (Tony), who revealed it was his first stage outing, admitted that he feared no one would enjoy it, such is the darkness of the humour.

Andy Nyman (Laurence), whose on stage trip (while holding a knife) didn't fluster the fabulous cast on the night we attended, talked about unexpected moments like that and how they all made each other laugh in rehearsals. And Susannah Harker (Susan) who has just given up smoking, talked about the challenges of puffing away nightly on stage, while Natalie Casey (Angela) laughed about her "goat herder dress", made specially for the show.

To listen to the Q&A, which was hosted by Whatsonstage.com Editor Theo Bosanquet, click the 'play' button above; or to subscribe and download from iTunes, click here.

As always, please feel free to email your comments and thoughts about the play, as well as any of your favourite insights from last night to [email protected]com and don't forget to tweet using #wosouting! We would love to hear from you.

Laura Norman
Club Manager


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