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You're All Invited to Abigail's Party!

Standing L-R: Alex Brown (Tony), Esther Taylor (Beverley), Ben Smith (Laurence). Seated L-R: Ruth Jones (Susan), Kezia Hine (Angela). Photo courtesy of the Priory Theatre.

Abigail’s Party, by Mike Leigh, at The Priory Theatre, Kenilworth, running from 23 February to 2 March. Directed by Bev Avis-Dakin.

Review by Ann Evans.


If ever there was a party that you didn’t want to be at, it was the one along the street from Abigail’s Party.

The party that Abigail’s mum, Susan (Ruth Jones), has been invited to –  a drinks party hosted by affluent couple Beverley (Esther Taylor) and Laurence (Ben Smith).

Glamorous Beverley is all set for an evening of gin & tonics, cheese and pineapple and sultry Demis Roussos music.  The fact that her workaholic husband, Laurence is still in work mode, stressed to the hilt and completely irritated with her, only makes her more determined to enjoy herself.

Their guests arrive - new neighbours, ex professional footballer Tony (Alex Brown) and his sweet old fashioned wife Angela (Kezia Hine); also divorced mum Susan, who is terrified that she'll still have a house left standing after her daughter Abigail's party which is going on just down the street. Never have five people been more miss-matched than these five.  

As the drinks flow, Beverley winds Laurence up, flirts outrageously with Tony, adds to Susan's stress and encourages chatterbox Angela to continuously put her foot in her mouth as she makes conversation. The result as we watch the goings on, and listen to the brilliantly funny but cringeworthy conversations, is an absolute delight – and makes you all the more relieved that you didn’t get an invite.

Kezia Hine’s portrayal of geeky but innocent Angela is just fabulous. She's hilarious in everything she says and does. From the brilliantly tactless things she comes out with, to the exuberant way in which she says them. You have to love her. Unfortunately I don't think Tony does.

Clearly she’s driving him over the edge, but there’s no chance you’ll waste your sympathies on this ‘Jack the lad’ as his roving eye has settled firmly on Beverley. And she’s making the most of it!

Great acting by all the cast. Beverley is without doubt the hostess with the most-ess, dishing up drinks faster than her guests can down them. Keeping the conversation flowing – subtly unnerving poor Susan who is anxious anyway over her daughter Abigail's party; flirting with Tony, and fighting with stressed-out and increasingly angry, Laurence.

You just know it’s all coming to the boil and before long is going to erupt! No spoilers, but you won’t be disappointed.

Great directing by Bev Avis-Dakin – this being her debut production, and a play she has waited 47 years to put on since seeing it as a youngster in 1977. She had this to say: “I’m very proud and delighted to bring my interpretation of this darkly humorous masterpiece to the Priory Theatre stage. It has been a wonderful debut experience to work with such an excellent cast, their talent and the development of the characters has been a joy to watch.”

Bev also thanked the great backstage teams for all their hard work, with special mention to Production Manager Nicky Main for her unfailing help and support; also Sibyl who designed the magnificent 1980s set and Wendy who sourced their props.

Talking about the set, Bev added, ”I guarantee anyone over 40 will recognise things from their childhood homes!”

She wasn’t wrong and I personally recognised the shelving unit – we had one just like it back in the day. I wondered where it had gone!

An absolute classic play, written by Mike Leigh, performed by a cast of fabulous actors. Get your tickets here:


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