Abigail’s Party @ Theatre Royal

We know it can be a mistake turning a book into a film with it sometimes killing the whole story and I am afraid Lindsay Posner’s Abigail’s Party at the Theatre Royal has the same result. Enveloped in orange nuanced lighting, this late 1970s living room is host to hip shaking Beverly, alone on a warm Summer’s night. While she enjoys Donna Summer’s beats, we anxiously wait with her for her husband and her guests to arrive.

Beverly’s strikingly famous orange dress in the film has been redesigned into a horrendous satin kitsch bright green outfit which vulgarly unveils her nude back. However, in all honesty, I was not at all pleased with the way that the character of Beverly was interpreted; she is not extremely rude to her husband.  On the contrary, although the couple are irritate one another throughout the play, they remain affectionate and mutually caring. I felt these sweet moments had been completely ignored and cut out from the performance.

A character such as Beverly is indeed a challenge for any actress however I am afraid to say that Hannah Waterman was not a wise casting choice in my opinion. The Beverly which I expected would have been less vicious and loud, more poised, rather polite and funnily frivolous in her party orchestration.

Beverly’s friends Tony and Angela are also not portrayed to their full potential. Although perhaps this is due to the fact that I am familiar with the film adaptation in which Angela is older and rather unique in her big specs and Tony is less handsome and less arrogant. In the play he appears as too much of a Casanova.

Sue (Emily Raymond), my favourite character, was also not given enough depth in characterisation; being too tailored to the stereotype of an old, passed intellectual, bourgeois spinster rather than a cultured, educated and mature, although neurotic, divorced woman. Less painful was the acting of Martin Marquez starring as Laurence although his figure was older than desired and portrayed to be unrealistically grumpy. Despite this, luckily these two performances kept my interest throughout the second act.

In other words, if this had been an amateur production I would have been less harsh and more sympathetic in expressing my opinions but being a West End production, I have to conclude that my disappointment was even greater. Some critics have said that Abigail’s Party ranks as ‘the most painful hundred minutes in British comedy-drama’.Unfortunately after watching Lindsay Posner’s production I would have to agree with this opinion.

Sofia Sagripanti

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One Comment
  • Rob Warr
    31 January 2013 at 10:07
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    I was invited to the show along with my wife to see ‘AP by my daughter who remembered we used to blat on about the tv play many years ago. I have not seen the film for many years but pretty well remember the plot along with the characters. i had no prior knowledge who the cast were and went into the show with an open mind. The main differences tween theatre and t.v. as I recall was that the play appeared extremely ‘loud and there appeared to be a bit more angst between the characters but I was o.k. with that. since the performance I have stumbled across ‘sofia Sagripanti’s review and i hope she gets better soon and takes some of Angie’s ‘happy pills. I was certainly glad I had not read the revue before the performance as i think i may have been negatively affected. I don’t really see the relevance of red dress green dress as surely the role of the theatre production is to take a theme and maybe put a different slant on it whilst keeping within the parameters of the story. If I wanted to see an exact replica of Mike Leighs play I’d bang the dvd on telly. Listen Sofia all actors stand and fall by their performances and perfection as in all aspects of life is rarely realised, if it was we’d have thousands of ‘Kate Winsletts and Daniel Craig swamping the acting world (heaven forbid I hear you all cry. I enjoyed the show, the audience around me enjoyed the show and in my book thats absolutely fine but then again I am not a critic. Can I single someone out and congratulate ‘Angie on holding that smile throughout the show, for showing her hurt and vulnerability when Tony and Bev were smooching and finally for reminding me how badly people of a certain age danced those years ago, I nearly fell out my chair as it brought back so many memories, good effort folks, thanks to the lads and lasses at the theatre before and after the show,see you next time.

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