Watford Palace Theatre in association with Rifco Theatre Company present:
The classic joyous satire on the aspirations and tastes of a new middle class set against the backdrop of multicultural 1970s Britain
by Mike Leigh | Directed by Pravesh Kumar
Watford Palace Theatre, 29 April – 23 May 2020
@watfordpalace | #AbigailsPartyWatford | watfordpalacetheatre.co.uk
Set against the backdrop of an evolving Britain of the 70s, this fresh production shows the classic Mike Leigh satire in a new light. Performed in traverse with intimate on-stage seating offering audience the chance to join Beverly and Laurence’s soireé, bringing them closer to the experience.
Abigail’s Party stars Harvey Virdi as Beverly, the role famously originated by Alison Steadman, and is directed by Pravesh Kumar, Artistic Director of Rifco Theatre Company, Watford Palace Theatre’s Resident Company.
Welcome to 1970s suburbia and its heady mix of free-flowing drinks, classic disco and cheese & pineapple sticks. Aspirational Beverly and her estate agent husband Laurence are hosting drinks for their newlywed neighbours. They are joined by a very anxious Susan, who has been banished from her daughter Abigail’s party. As the evening goes on, marital tensions rise and tempers flare as the characters’ true natures are hilariously but ruthlessly exposed.
Harvey Virdi leads the cast as Beverly. Harvey is best known as series regular Dr Misbah Maalik in Hollyoaks, Mrs Malik in Citizen Khan and Teetu’s Mum in Bend It Like Beckham. In theatre she has worked extensively at the RSC and Leicester Haymarket, as well as frequently collaborating with Watford’s own Rifco Theatre Company – both as an actress and a writer (Meri Christmas, Miss Meena and the Masala Queens).
Director Pravesh Kumar said, ‘I’m thrilled to be directing one of my favourite plays by Mike Leigh. I wanted to bring a freshness to it by casting Harvey Virdi as Beverly and open the play to whole new audience that may not have seen it. I’m really excited to be bringing this production to the Watford Palace Theatre in traverse, with intimate on-stage seating so that our audiences can get a feel part of the party mayhem.’
Pravesh Kumar is the Artistic Director of Rifco Theatre Company. He started the company in 2000 to make a different kind of theatre for a community that could not see themselves represented on English stages. He has been at the forefront of bringing new British Asian audiences into theatres all over the country. His theatrical directorial debut was in 2000 with a UK tour of Bollywood – Yet Another Love Story. He has gone on to achieve critical acclaim for Rifco’s productions: Dishoom!, Pyar Actually, Miss Meena & the Masala Queens, Laila The Musical, Britain’s Got Bhangra, Happy Birthday Sunita, It Ain’t All Bollywood, There’s Something About Simmy, Airport 2000, Meri Christmas, Where’s My Desi Soulmate?, The Deranged Marriage and Break The Floorboards. His short film, Gods on Mountains was nominated for the Satyajit Ray Short Film Award. Most recently Pravesh wrote the book for the acclaimed rap musical, Mushy: Lyrically Speaking. Pravesh is currently writing a new main stage musical and leads on the Rifco Associates programme finding new British Asian voices of the future.
Mike Leigh OBE is a celebrated English writer and director of film and theatre. He trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, at Camberwell and Central Art Schools in London, and at the London Film School.