"Our nation's culture. Not something you can actually read, of course."
There's something mildly amusing about the above quote, which refers to Shakespeare by the way, given the Bardathon currently going on at the Globe and beyond and it is one that I didn't pick up the first time I saw Abigail's Party. I'd never seen it before despite the Alison Steadman version being a cult classic and so the whole show was a revelation to me, especially in how dark it was given I'd assumed it was more of a comedy. That original review from this production's original run at the Menier Chocolate Factory can be read here but it has now made the leap into the West End at the Wyndhams where it will run for the summer after it sold out at the Menier.
I don't really have much more to add about the show second time round, except to say that the Wyndhams is a great fit for it, the sense of intimacy is still there as Beverly's living room occupies a letterbox set on the larger stage and has brought with it all the beautifully observed period details. Performances remain sharp across the board, Natalie Casey really is excellent as the gin-soaked Ange, Andy Nyman oozes unreconstructed machismo as Laurence and Jill Halfpenny sweeps all before her as the acidic Beverly.
It was great being able to catch the show a second time and really assess it for what it was, rather than what I thought it was going to be, and whilst I'm still not sure it is as funny as many of the people around me seemed to find it (the desperate state of the marriages is what shines out for me), it is definitely a classic piece of writing and Lindsay Posner's production remains perfectly attuned to it.
Running time: 2 hours (with interval)
Programme cost: £4
Booking until 1st September
Labels: Andy Nyman, Jill Halfpenny, Joe Absolom, Mike Leigh, Natalie Casey, Susannah Harker