Monday, 5 May 2008

Abigail's Party

St Margaret's Players
Abigail's Party
By Mike Leigh,

8th, 9th & 10th May 2008 at 7:30 p.m. in the Village Hall

The plot is very simple, revolving around the one-upmanship of two couples, and the tension of Beverly and Laurence's barely functional marriage. As the alcohol takes effect, Beverly becomes increasingly attracted to Tony, as Laurence sits impotently by. After a tirade about art, the play comes to a shocking end. Within this simple framework, all of the obsessions, prejudices and petty competitiveness of the protagonists is ruthlessly exposed.

Lawrence, just back from the office has to make some important calls, much to the annoyance of Beverly. Laurence aspires to the finer things in life, leather-bound Shakespeare (which he admits he never reads), prints of Van Gogh and Lowry paintings, and Beethoven, which he enforces on his guests at unfortunate moments. He seems powerless to compete with Beverly's more flamboyant persona, and consequentially overworks, as his wife points out on several occasions.
They are holding a drinks party for their new neighbours Angela, and her husband Tony. Angela is a nurse and appears very meek. She can't drive, as Tony doesn't want her to. Interested in the mundane and commonplace, much to her husband's annoyance, she comes into her own when there is a crisis.

Beverly smokes, drinks and she drives her husband, Laurence to distraction. A department store make-up representative, she has failed her driving test a few times. During the play, she flirts with Tony and is always trying to impress her guests. She considers her taste in music (Jose Feliciano/Demis Roussos, Tom Jones) and art (kitsch erotica) to be every bit as good as that of her husband. Immensely proud of her home, she nonetheless admits that she cannot use the gadgets of her kitchen.

Tony works in computers and used to play professional football for Crystal Palace F.C. but it "didn't work out". His apparent barely-concealed hatred of Angela, the woman who has become his wife, occasionally boils over, although Angela confirms he has never been violent. Beverly flirts with him throughout the play, much to the annoyance of Laurence.
Sue was getting divorced at the same time the other characters were getting married, as kindly pointed out by Angela. She is a quiet character who doesn't really have the courage to say no. She is the only female visibly not 'dressed-up' for the gathering. She doesn't really want to drink very much, but Beverly keeps "freshening" her glass for her, whether she likes it or not.

Beverly wants to dance, so the men move the furniture to provide the space.

To Lawrence's annoyance Tony and Beverly dance together rather closely.

Lawerence and Angela "dance" in an awkward attempt to do as Beverly asks.

Equally stilted Sue and Lawrence are forced to dance by Beverly's insistent cajoling.

There lots more to come but, to find out, go and see the play. You'll even find out why it's called Abigail's Party!

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