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Michael Cabot's new 30th anniversary production misses nothing... The acting has a real depth and integrity that pays rich dividends, with Pauline Whitaker in painfully fine form as the gently-spoken middle-class neighbour Sue, Benjamin Warren and Helen Johns acting up a slowly-brewing storm as the ill-matched young couple next door, and Jennings revealing the full, lethal depths of Beverly's boredom and desperation, sexual and otherwise."
The Scotsman

"London Classic Theatre's splendidly focused production, directed by Michael Cabot and featuring a five-strong cast, attracted a capacity audience. Paula Jennings was an absolute hoot as party hostess Beverly - no mean feat when one considers how strongly the role is associated with Alison Steadman. This was a highly enjoyable and satisfying piece of theatre which worked on every level."
South Wales Evening Post

"London Classic Theatre’s production has been going down a storm around the country in a tour that started modestly but has since grown to more than six months due to demand. And you can see why. The beautifully-chosen cast of five are note-perfect throughout. Steve Dineen, as homeowner and inept host, builds the husband’s frustration throughout the evening until his anger is ready to pop. His monstrous wife, Beverly, is brought to life wonderfully by Paula Jennings in a flowing, grey velveteen ensemble, which she whisks among the guests while refilling drinks and being patronising in the name of neighbourliness."
Oldham Evening Chronicle

"It’s impossible not to be drawn into London Classic Theatre’s production of Mike Leigh’s beautifully observed drama about strained relationships and painfully awkward social situations. Paula Jennings plays hostess Beverly, who with her husband Laurence (Steve Dineen) invites their neighbours, Angela, Tony and Sue over for some drinks and nibbles, and so ensues a horribly compelling evening of stifling, suburban entertaining as G&Ts flow freely and everyone gets increasingly drunk."
The Stage

"A memorable seventies’ TV version featured a career-defining performance from Alison Steadman as the vampish Beverley, and remains the benchmark by which any actress taking on the role is measured. Here, Paula Jennings injects glamour and bile in equal measure into her prickly performance to come across as a kind of Lady Macbeth of Hampstead, haunted by her own soulless existence. Proving a worthy successor to her acclaimed forebear, Jennings’ protagonist picks on the carrion of her neurotic husband Laurence, played by Steve Dineen. As a neighbour’s daughter holds her own night of merriment further along the street, Beverley subjects her house guests - the naive Angela (Helen Johns), her husband Tony (Benjamin Warren) and divorcee Susan (Pauline Whitaker) - to a gin and tonic soaked roller-coaster ride with musical accompaniment from Elvis and Jose Feliciano. Forcing the group to face up to the cultural straitjacket imposed by their sterile suburban surrounds, Beverly’s conniving leads to tragic, if inevitable consequences, handled with a firm but sensitive touch by director Michael Cabot. Hosting the première of a new, 30th anniversary version of arguably the most famous work of one of the UK’s most respected writers is undoubtedly a major coup for Perth Theatre."
Perthshire Advertiser

"London Classic Theatre have brought a terrific production of this play - a regular in the canon of modern British theatre - to Cork, where it is hardly ever seen. Alice Selwyn, as the hostess with the mostest, invites a few neighbours around to her house to patronise and schmooze them. It is a thrilling performance from Selwyn. Flouncing around the stage in her over-the-top dress and hair do, she beckons her suburban guests through her home like she is offering them unimagined palatial pleasures."
Liam Heylin - Cork Evening Echo

"It’s perhaps no surprise that this production of Abigail's Party is such a finely tuned and well-oiled machine. After all, these are the final performances of London Classic Theatre's 2008 tour of Mike Leigh's 1977 play, so the actors have inhabited these characters for five months or so. It's a wonderful trip down memory lane for those who were there first time round, and as much of an entertainment for those who missed it all. We could see how the work deliberates on age, different generations, anyone who's ever pretended to be someone they're not, one-upmanship, an Englishman's home, and so much else, thanks to the really superb cast of five. Alison Steadman's Beverly long ago entered the national consciousness, but the elegant Alice Selwyn has more than made Bev her own. Her good looks added an extra frisson to her raunchy flirting with her friend Ange's (Amy Starling) near-monosyllabic husband Tony (Jamie Matthewman), all in front of her own husband, Laurence, and she was perfectly overbearing throughout. Starling was wonderful, just hilarious. Her posture garnered laughs all on its own, as did that of Anna Kirke as poor middle class Susan, whose rebellious daughter was holding the titular gathering in a house down the road. Kirke's portrayal was a triumph, too, brittle, delicate, and desperately empathetic. As the simmering tension and hostility gave way to fireworks in Act Two, and everything came crashing down, we were all thoroughly delighted to have spent a few hours in the company of such talented individuals, breathing new life into such an important twentieth century work."
Joanne Mace - Basingstoke Gazette

Abigail’s Party

CREATIVE TEAM:
Writer: Mike Leigh
Directed by Michael Cabot
Designed by Geraldine Bunzl
Lighting by Peter Foster
Costume Design by Katja Krzesinska
Photography: Sheila Burnett

CAST:
Steve Dineen, Paula Jennings, Helen Johns, Benjamin Warren and Pauline Whitaker (September 2007 – November 2007).
Steve Dineen, Anna Kirke, Jamie Matthewman, Alice Selwyn and Amy Starling (February 2008 – June 2008).

SELECTED VENUES:
Everyman Palace Theatre Cork, Coventry Belgrade Theatre, Theatre Royal Winchester, Harrogate Theatre, Norwich Playhouse, Perth Theatre, Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Oldham Coliseum, Haymarket Theatre Basingstoke, Buxton Opera House and Greenwich Theatre.

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