Review: Queen's Theatre revives Abigail's Party while new production Abi gives classic story modern twist

PUBLISHED: 15:00 12 September 2018

Abigail's Party. Picture: Mark Sepple

Abigail's Party. Picture: Mark Sepple

Mark Sepple

Cheese-pineapple sticks, 70s music and a lot of Bacardi.

Abi. Picture: Mark SeppleAbi. Picture: Mark Sepple

These are just some of the things that stuck in my brain after watching the BBC adaptation of Abigail’s Party for the first time about 10 years ago.

And once again, these are a few of the superficial elements of the Mike Leigh play which stood out to me when I went to see it brought to life at the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch.

Thanks to the fantastic timing, original portrayal of each of the characters and tension built up throughout the show, the cast recreate the best version possible of a classic play.

Actress Melanie Gutteridge, who stars Beverley, put her own spin on the party hostess from hell without changing her altogether, making you sympathise, laugh and feel anger towards her.

Amy Downham, Liam Bergin, Susie Emmett and Christopher Staines, who play Angela, Tony, Sue and Lawrence, also equally add something both funny and awkward to the revival, making it a very entertaining watch.

To coincide with the adaptation, Abi, a new spin-off play commissioned by The Derby Theatre and Queen’s Theatre, set in today’s times where Abigail’s granddaughter is preparing to host a party of her own, has also hit the Horcnhurch community venue’s stage.

Although little physical activity takes place on stage, Safiyya Ingar, who plays Abi, manages to use this to her advantage, roaming around the space freely without it feeling as if she’s moving just for the sake of it.

Abi fills in some gaps of what writer Atiha Sen Gupta believes could have happened on the night of the original party and highlights everything that is wrong with the racial and misogynistic jokes that were made in Abigail’s Party.

The play remains a classic and I think it will do for a very long time but Abi has got to be commended for its bravery in tackling these issues that are so deeply ingrained in the general culture of the 70s play.

Safiyya said: “Mike Leigh’s work is incredibly clever so doing a new play based on what he had already done was daunting but exciting, especially as Atiha’s writing made it feel like a story in its own right.

“As soon as I read the script, I knew that I wanted to be part of it.”


Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Romford Recorder

1959 A 16-year-old Hornchurch boy who tried - and failed - to rescue his father from drowning at Southend was praised at the inquest this week for his courage. David Benton, of Northumberland Avenue, Hornchurch and a friend. Arthur Frederick Suckling, 17, of Factory Road, Romford, who helped in the rescue attempt, were told by Mr A. J. Dalton, Southend deputy coroner: “Your efforts were very valiant.” A verdict of the accidental drowning was recorded in the death of Charles Edwin Joseph Benton, 46, who was employed at a photographic firm. He died near the wreck of Mulberry Harbour, off the beach at Thorpe Bay. Mr Benton, described by his wife as “a big healthy and active, keen on the water but not a strong swimmer,” was brought to shore by Donald Atkinson of Winchmore Hill. 1979 Police were hunting for a brave have-a-go hero who tackled armed bandits in a bid to stop a £25,000 robbery. The mystery man lashed out at a vicious shotgun gang when they swooped on security guards outside at Elm Park bank. Detectives praised his courage and appealed for him to come forward, The drama began when a Security Express van arrived outside the National Westminster Bank in Elm parade, St Nicholas Avenue at 10.20am to deliver cash. Two guards left the van to walk towards the bank and were pounced on by four men with sawn-off shotguns. One grabbed the cash bag and started to run off. But one of the guards jumped on his back, and threatened to shoot if he didn’t let him go. The mystery hero then ran to help the guards and punched one of the gang. 1999 A pair of armed robbers held up a Securicor van with a gun and are believed to have made off with around £70,000. The terrifying attack happened around 10am outside the Abbey National bank, in Station Parade, Elm Park. It is believed the robbers shoved a Securicor guard up against the side of the van and threatened him with a handgun, while another guard inside the van passed out money through the hatch. Securicor was offering a reward of up to £10,000 for information leading to arrest and conviction. A witness said: “It was really frightening, these two men started shouting and waving a gun. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, then they just ran off. I was quite shaky because I didn’t know where they were going to run to or to what they were going to do next - it was awful.”

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists