Review: Abigail's Party, Preston Charter Theatre

THE basic idea of Abigail's Party was to create various flawed characters, put them in a party together and wait for the sparks to fly.

And London Classic Theatre's 2008 tour of play did justice to every bit of Mike Leigh's original ground breaking premise.

Actress Alice Selwyn instantly filled the shoes of Beverley - the overbearing, glamorous lady of the house.

She ably commanded the attention of party guests and the audience for the duration of the play.

Like any good hostess, she proceeded to get herself and her company significantly intoxicated, and as the party progressed her perfect smile gave way to a nasty sneer.

Trying to seduce the married, hunky and brooding Tony (Jamie Mattewman) is just the start of the trouble that unfolds.

Beverely's highly strung nature proved too much for the timid Susan (Anna Kirke) whose nerves eventually sees her being nursed with her head down the toilet.

And actress Amy Starling was almost unrecognisable from her pretty programme picture as she bimbled around the stage as Angela - the dizzy blonde utterly clueless to Beverley's advances towards her husband as she craved the acceptance of the glamorous hostess.

Lastly Laurence. Poor Laurence. I love this play and am always keen to see new versions and fresh portrayals of the characters, and Steve Dineen is perhaps my finest Laurence to date.

The downtrodden, nagged and outrageously overworked husband whose tragic mistake is to fall in love with an absolute nightmare of a woman.

Essentially a decent chap who meets his demise attempting to stand up to Beverley.

For anyone who has ever been to a bad party where gin seems like the only answer, this play is for you.

Abigail's Party runs at Preston's Charter Theatre until March 15.

If you miss it the tour comes to Kendal's Brewery Arts Centre on April 24.

Angela Kirk