Abigail’s Party

Brill Productions Limited in association with Park Theatre present:

Abigail’s Party

Mike Leigh’s classic comedy of manners returns to the London stage with former EastEnders star Kellie Shirley

Written by Mike Leigh | Directed by Vivienne Garnett

PARK 90, Wednesday 10th November – Saturday 4th December 2021

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Mike Leigh’s iconic comedy drama returns to the London stage with former EastEnders star Kellie Shirley playing Beverly, and Ryan Early (Lee Bryce in The Archers) playing her angst-driven husband Laurence. The 1970s comedy of manners, full of new-found suburban pretensions and social aspirations, was a huge hit when it premiered at the Hampstead Theatre, and the TV adaptation has been voted as one of the greatest British TV programmes by both industry professionals and the public.

Beverly and estate agent husband Laurence are happily ensconced and living the dream in suburbia. They know what records to play, what art prints to buy and what wine to drink. And Beverly just can’t resist the temptation to spread her knowledge and help improve the lives of their neighbours, Tony, Angela and Abigail’s Mum, Susan. What better way to help out than to invite them all for drinks and titbits?

Abigail’s Party is Mike Leigh’s classic 1977 play that was first developed through lengthy improvisations, a style which became the hallmark of Leigh’s future success in film and TV. It first ran at the Hampstead theatre for 104 performances and was due to transfer to the West End, but instead it was whisked into a BBC TV studio and the subsequent broadcast quickly became a cult classic repeated many times over the years.

Director Vivienne Garnett said, “In many people’s minds, Abigail’s Party is the epitome of British suburbia in the 1970s, yet despite being very much ‘of its time’, the almost desperate aspirationalism and materialism are certainly themes we can identify with today. These are characters whom we still recognise, even 44 years after their conception, and it had been a joy to reincarnate them with such a tremendous cast. So, whether you’re a fan of olives or ‘a little cheesy-pineapple one’, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this acerbic tragi-comic drama.”

Kellie Shirley takes on the lead role of Beverly, originally played by Alison Steadman. Kellie is best known as playing Carly Wicks in EastEnders, and Kirsty De La Croix in Sky One comedy series In the Long Run. Her theatre credits include Great Britain (National Theatre) and One Man, Two Guvnors (Theatre Royal Haymarket). She is joined by Ryan Early, best known as Lee Bryce in The Archers.

Brill Productions produces drama across theatre and radio. Run by Clive Brill, its most recent productions include G F Newman’s The Corrupted for BBC Radio 4, starring Toby Jones and Believe it for BBC Radio Comedy starring Richard Wilson.  Clive has previously produced and directed two productions at Park 90. Black Chiffon by Lesley Storm, starring Abigail Cruttenden (Offie nominated) and Corpse! by Gerald Moon. Clive is also Producer and Artistic Director of Frinton Summer Theatre.

Park Theatre presents exceptional theatre in the heart of Finsbury Park, boasting two world-class performance spaces: Park200 for predominantly larger scale productions by established talent, and Park90, a flexible studio space, for emerging artists. In eight years, it has enjoyed eight West End transfers (including Daytona starring Maureen Lipman, The Boys in the Band starring Mark Gatiss, Pressure starring David Haig and The Life I Lead starring Miles Jupp), two National Theatre transfers, twenty-five national tours, five Olivier Award nominations, has won Offie Awards for Best New Play and Best Foodie Experience and won a Theatre of the Year award from The Stage. Park Theatre are grateful to all those who have donated to the Park Life fund, supporting the venue through the pandemic.

Running Time: 2 hours (including interval) | Suitable for ages 16+

Company information

Directed by Vivienne Garnett                Written by Mike Leigh

Set design by Beth Colley         Lighting design by Pip Thurlow            Costume design by Neil Gordon

Kellie Shirley, Ryan Early, Emma Noakes, Barbara D’Alterio

Listings information

10th November – 4th December

Park Theatre, Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, London N4 3JP

Previews: Weds 10th November 7.45pm and Thurs 11th November 3.15pm | £14.50

Mon – Sat evening 7.45pm, Thurs and Sat matinees 3.15pm

Standard £18, concessions £16.50
www.parktheatre.co.uk | 020 7870 6876*

* Telephone booking fee: 10% capped at £2.50 per ticket