Salisbury Playhouse – until 17 November 2018.
Reviewed by Leanne Caplis
Wiltshire Creative work alongside Derby Theatre, Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch and Les Théȃtres de la Ville Luxembourgh to bring to stage the 70’s comedy that is Abigail’s Party.
Beverley (Melanie Gutterdige) together with her husband Laurence (Christopher Staines) are the hosts to their neighbours Tony (Liam Bergin), Angela (Amy Downham) and Susan (Susie Emmett) to what can only be described as a gathering of very contrasting personalities.
During a drinks party the hostess forces alcohol, cigarettes and pineapple on a stick on her guests who are too polite to refuse. However plied with alcohol a turn of events results in true colours being shown when cracks in the exaggerated British politeness start to show.
Immediately from entering the house one is transported back to the 1970’s. The attention to detail is to be commended. From pre-show music to the 1970’s front room everything is perfect! Losing yourself in the show makes it easy to forget you are in a theatre and not back in the days of flower power, flares and shag pile rugs.
A slow start was quickly forgotten once all the characters were on stage and I quickly became absorbed. There was plenty of dark humour reminiscent of shows like ‘The Good Life’ and ‘Rising Damp’ but remained audience appropriate. Several moments of awkward silence initially had me thinking lines had been forgotten – however it soon became clear it is intentional.
The second half was superb with some real belly-laugh moments from the whole audience. The ending, although expected, was superbly written and performed with all characters contributing to a memorable finish.
Angela (Amy Downham) was the stand out character. Her comedy timing, facial expressions and ability to portray the immature and unintelligent neighbour we can all relate to saw her being the star of the show. However, all characters played their parts well; Susie the stereo-typical middle class lady and Liam who perfected the art of looking awkward were very worthy of praise.
On leaving the Playhouse, with a smile of my face, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of nostalgia having enjoyed a wonderful performance. I would highly recommend this production to adults of any age suspect, like me, you’ll not leave disappointed.