Abigail's Party

Date 21st March 2024
Society Tyldesley Little Theatre
Venue Tyldesley Little Theatre.
Type of Production Play
Director Danny Tooby
Written By Mike Leigh

Report

Author: Dawn-Marie Woodcock

It was a pleasure to be invited to review Tyldesley Little Theatre’s production of Abigail’s Party, by Mike Leigh. Having never seen this play before, I found myself, along with the audience, laughing aloud at this genuinely funny satire. Set in the 1970’s, in middle class suburban Romford, Beverley Moss and her husband Lawrence are hosting a small drinks party for a few of their neighbours. As the night progresses, everyone drinks and says too much, resulting in restrained arguments and a sudden death. Director Danny Tooby worked hard with his cast and crew to provide a witty, slick, perfectly timed production. The play took place within the confines of the Moss’s sitting room, whilst Abigail, the neighbour’s daughter is holding her first ever party next door. Danny and his team recreated a seventy’s lounge with retro wallpaper, furniture, sideboard drinks cabinet, a high- backed wicker chair and lava lamp. The complete set looked authentic, colourful, and functional. I particularly liked the use of sound in this production, the rise and fall of outside party noise, the use of the record player turned up and down as the actors conversed. The sound never missed a beat, blending seamlessly into the action, with no mic feedback or dropouts. The sound operator, Paul Whur was kept on his toes throughout this production and the result was impressive. Danny and his team delivered in spades. Props were of the era, costumes looked fabulous, I loved the floating purple dress worn by Beverley Moss, typical of the 1970’s with bright, bold colours.

Rebecca Southern played Beverley Moss. Rebecca was great in this role, giving her character depth as she displayed many sides to her personality. Unhappy in her marriage, she bickered constantly with her husband, flirted wildly with the neighbour Tony, gave underhand compliments and terrible advice, all whilst plying people with drink and getting drunk herself. Her comic timing was flawless, her little dips and shimmies to the music were very funny as she moved her way around the stage. I did like Rebecca’s Essex accent; I thought her whole performance was rounded and very well played out.

Matthew James played Lawrence Moss. Matthew made the audience laugh heartily with his repressed anger. A man on the edge, Matthew played this role with gusto, constantly on the move, unable to relax, his characterisation was excellent. In the run up to the death scene I could hear the people around me laughing nonstop as Matthew exhaled his way loudly through the surrounding dialogue with precision. It was a terrific performance from Matthew.

The role of Angela Cooper was played by Lauren Allister. Lauren was hilarious as the new neighbour who talked over her husband and agreed with anything anyone said. Completely oblivious to the flirtation between her husband and Beverley, she was a joy to watch. Her dancing with Lawrence had the audience in stitches. Her closing scene with the leg cramp was comedy gold, the audience laughed aloud as the curtain fell.

Tony Cooper was played by Nicholas Worthington. Tony was very funny in this role, a husband who could not get a word in edgeways. He had less dialogue because of the constant interruptions, instead conveying his thoughts by facial and body movements. His character was flirtatious with Beverley but quite rough with his wife, we got the impression he was not a particularly nice man without him saying too much. An impressive performance from Nicholas.

Ingrid Folkard-Evans played Susan Lawson. As the immediate next-door neighbour to Beverley and Lawrence and mother of Abigail she had been forced out of her home for the duration of the party. Obviously uncomfortable, plied with alcohol from Beverley, Ingrid’s characterisation was very convincing. She played her comedy moments to their fullest and the audience applauded and laughed along.

I really enjoyed this production; it was full of satirical humour and the cast played their parts to perfection. The audience reaction throughout was one of unrestrained laughter. From start to finish it was quick fire, the cast were strong performers and the crew had created a notable set. I would like to thank Tyldesley Little Theatre for inviting me to review Abigail’s Party.