MIKE Leigh’s savagely funny play Abigail’s Party, set in London suburbia in 1977, might be a period piece but it’s as hilariously fresh as ever, as Motcombe Community Players proved to two sell-out audiences at the Village Hall.
Five people get together for drinks and nibbles, while the 15-year-old daughter of one of them has her first “grown up” party next door.
Beverly, a former cosmetics demonstrator has invited new neighbours Angela and Tony and Susan round for drinks. Her husband Laurence, a work obsessed estate agent, is late home and has forgotten to get the beer.
The scene – brilliantly realised with authentic yellow and brown wallpaper, Jose Feliciano and 70s props – is set for social mayhem, and it’s hard to imagine five actors doing it better than the Motcombe ensemble.
Comic timing is all important, and in Wendy Ibbotson’s directorial debut, not a foot is put wrong, there’s not a moment’s hesitation nor a single nuance lost.
Joni Clowrey captures the monstrous cruelty of Beverley, the role that made Alison Steadman famous, removing from her face any kindness and compassion and replacing it with arch nastiness.
Kate Kirkpatrick’s Angela increases the volume of her voice and the strength of her facial expressions as the G and T takes its effects – a brilliant trick.
As her husband, former footballer Tony, John Laing times his few words for maximum impact.
Wendy Ibbotson’s Susan is excruciatingly awkward and out of place in this competitive group.
Mark Blackham brings a frenetically driven lightness to the role of the volatile Laurence.
Abigail’s Party is a perfectly observed social satire, brilliantly done in Motcombe. It’s only a pity more people could not have seen it.