Wednesday, February 19

Abigail’s Party

- January 17, 2019

Few plays come with so much history, a theatre hit remade as a TV sensation with a cast that have become so closely linked with those iconic roles that for anyone else to take it on is an almighty challenge. This new ATG production has certainly taken the bull by the horns and delivers a ripping performance that is to say the least over the top. From the moment Jodie Prenger appears, smoochily dancing to Love To Love You Baby, to the very final twist she is the embodiment or the arch manipulative bitch that Beverley needs to be, passive aggressive never had sharper teeth or claws. Vicky Binns make a good gauche Angela rapidly downing drink after drink, Daniel Casey’s Laurence is so steeped in 70s machismo yet finely balanced with fragility that it’s hard to believe that this is 2019 and Calum Callaghan’s Tony is a bubbling cauldron of suppressed lust and aggression. It’s certainly the drinks party from hell and even the presence of the delicate and fragile Sue does little to calm those stormy waters, in fact it is Rose Keegan’s superb performance in the role that holds the whole together, here gently delivered responses, slight nods of the head and often bewildered stares are the perfect balance for Jodie Prenger’s wicked slights.
Mike Leigh and the original cast, through improvisation, created one of the most important peices of theatre of that era and to restage it is certainly no easy undertaking. This production does justice to the original with a fine period set that swept me back to my childhood family home and a cast that make the most of every nuance and every gag.
Theatre Royal Brighton
16 January
Andrew Kay
Rating: ★★★★☆

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