Thursday 6 April 2017

Review ~ Abigail's Party by Mike Leigh

This edition 2017
Penguin Random House

Abigail’s Party is a classic pinnacle of British theatre, first performed in 1977 at Hampstead Theatre.

The play is the telling of two marriages spectacularly unravelling at an awkward neighbourhood drinks party.

This edition includes the original script, complete with a new introduction by Mike Leigh describing the play's unlikely genesis, how it came to be made and where he believes it fits within his oeuvre as one of the country's leading writers and directors.

What did I think..

I am old enough to remember first watching Abigail's Party when it was broadcast on the 1st November 1977 as BBC1's Play for Today. To be able to read a copy of the script, in this its 40th anniversary year, is a real treat.

It's rather different reading a script than a novel, and of course, that takes some getting used to but pretty soon you get the 'voice's' of the characters in your head and this social satire, so beautifully written, just flows along really well. For me, it helped enormously to still be able to hear the very talented Alison Steadman's voice as Beverley the iconic and rather sad character I remember so well from the television adaptation.

The five and a half page introduction by the playwright, Mike Leigh, really helps to put the play into context, and as he shares the background to Abigail's Party you get a real sense of the history of the time and of the values, idiosyncrasies and avid consumerism which was so prevalent during the early Thatcher years.

This tragi-comedy works works so well as a piece of literary history and if you remember watching the play on TV then I'm sure that you will enjoy reading this 40th Anniversary edition as much as I did.

Best Read With ..a cheese and pineapple savoury and a large glass of 1977 Beaujolais... 

About the Author

Mike Leigh OBE is an English writer and film and theatre director.

My Thanks to Josie at Penguin Random House for my copy of Abigail's Party


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