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ODS - Abigail's Party

22nd, 24th, 25th June 2005

By Mike Leigh

Produced & Directed by Kendal Orange & Eric Howker

Cast List

Beverley   Annie Walker
Laurence   Phil Stringer
Angela   Jenny Genge
Tony   Rod Ellis
Sue   Jennifer Keen

Production team

Stage Manager   Rupert Thorne
Continuity   Trisha Davies
Lighting and Sound   Nigel & Kendal Orange
Set Design and Properties   Kendal Orange
Set Construction   Mike Genge, John Davies, Tony Webster
Front of House   Doris Lemon & Eileen Saunders
Poster & Banner Design   Toby Webster
Publicity   Annie Walker & Rupert Thorne & Eric Howker
Programme   Phil Stringer & Bernard Hawkes
Box Office   Marilyn Runnalls

Synopsis

This play may be entitled Abigail's Party, but we see neither Abigail nor her party. The play is set in Laurence and Beverley's living room and they have invited their new neighbours, Tony and Angela, round for a social evening as well as Abigail's mother, Susan, allowing her to escape from Abigail and her party! The evening begins with fatuous small talk, but as it progresses the marital strain between Laurence and Beverly becomes increasingly evident and Susan becomes more and more anxious as to what is happening at her daughter's party.

Pictures

Review

From Horsham Today / West Sussex County Times 8th July 2005.

ON THE surface a lightweight topic, the Abigail’s Party highlights deeper undercurrents lurking below the surface in the lives of the principal characters.

The choice of play for this small company was carried through with great energy and enthusiasm (June 22 to 25).

Set in the ’70s when it was first produced for television, the play revolves around a social get together for five near neighbours; Beverley, married to staid estate agent Laurence, Angela, a nurse, Tony, a computer programmer and Sue, a divorcee and mother of the eponymous Abigail, whom we never actually get to see and whose party is taking place elsewhere.

Annie Walker, who played the domineering Beverley, brought a real sense of a bored and frustrated wife desperate to bring some excitement into her life.

Phil Stringer as Laurence her work-driven, henpecked husband was equally believable in his role.

Jenny Genge and Rod Ellis, in the roles of Angela and Tony, convincingly conveyed a different sort of marriage where the husband is the dominant partner.

Jennifer Keen, a complete newcomer to amateur dramatics played the character of the quiet, almost mouse-like Sue superbly.

The plot developed very slowly in the early part of the evening, the performers seeming more comfortable in the second half.

The dramatic turn of events at the end of the play, which brings about complete role reversals within the two couples, was exceedingly well done, as was the ’70s set design by Kendal Orange.

The less than enormous audience on the night laughed and gasped in all the right places. For me the performance of the evening was the beautifully controlled and restrained one given by Jennifer Keen.

Copyright © Toni Leighton 2005