Every time I leave the theatre, I feel inspired by one thing or another. Last night, when I got home, I was still in awe of the show I’d seen that evening. But more on what impressed me later. Abigail’s party is one of those things I’d heard of but thought best-reserved people with my Grandads sense of humour. Written in 1977 by Mike Leigh, Abigail’s party was a televised play produced in the time of Thatcher, Punk and a hostessing phenomenon. It’s a well-loved story by many a generation and I had the pleasure of seeing it at The Theatre Royal last night.
Full of vegan burger (the Bills one is great) I walked into the theatre will little to no expectation and I really didn’t have a clue what it was about. I purposefully avoided discussing with my Grandad, who is a massive fan. The first thing to stun me was the set. I LOVE a detailed set. You see the home of Beverly and Laurence, your typical young married couple. Although I wasn’t even THOUGHT about in the ’70s, I knew the set was pretty spot on and it really transported you to that time. A quick note on sound, I wasn’t totally sure if they were micced but the voices sure filled the massive theatre and the music and sound effects in the background were seamlessly perfect. (would you expect anything less from The Theatre Royal)
The storyline, if you’re not aware, follows just one evening at Beverly and Laurence’s house. They invite new kids to the block, Angela and Tony for drinks to welcome them to the neighbourhood. Sue, a neighbour, also arrives as her daughter Abigail is having a house party. You see the night develop as the gin gets poured more and more. As you can imagine, drama unfolds. Even though some of the language and references re niche, the comedy style is something I am so on board with. It’s that sort of satirical comedy that everyone can relate to.
The characterisation was the thing that really impressed me. With only 5 characters in the show, each one is so defined and well thought about. Beverly is the classic hostess with the mostess. Never a glass empty. She LOVES herself and talking about all her achievements. We all know that girl. I described her as a mixture of Pamela from Gavin and Stacey and Gemma Collins. Jodie Prenger, who is a well-known actress, carried the iconic character perfectly. The voice was absolutely spot on and I could have laughed at ANYTHING she said. Her husband, played by Daniel Casey, also pulled off the character so well. You know that house proud, high strung man who secretly resents his bubbly wife?
In come Angela, played by Corrie’s Vicky Binns and her husband Tony, played by Calum Callaghan. With the whole embodiment of their characters, I sussed them out instantly. Angela is the excited yet a lil nervous woman who asks way too many questions and is easily influenced. Tony is the moody husband and a man of few words who only pipes up after 5 drinks.
Sue, who was played by Rose Keegan, was the one who really made me laugh. She had the mannerisms of this slightly conservative woman absolutely nailed. She, like Tony, was one of few words. Every time she spoke, I had to giggle. Her signature head wiggle was hilarious and she spoke on the same pitch the whole time- so funny.
Honestly, I had a great night and I would recommend going to see this for the characterisation alone. As someone who is studying acting, both on screen and on stage, I was so impressed. Of course, these are all seasoned professionals. They all gave me that magnificent feeling of forgetting I was watching something live. It was so seamless, perfected and well performed. Absolute props to the actors to learn this show- I can imagine it must be so hard to stay focused when you don’t leave the stage once. Get yourself down to Brighton and enjoy a night of laughs. Take your Grandad. Thank you Theatre Royal for having me and good luck to the cast for the rest of the run!