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Abigail’s Party

Menier Chocolate Factory, London SE1

    Everyone watching Lindsay Posner's powerful revival of Mike Leigh's 1977 play will be shocked by the sheer savagery with which two marriages implode during a suburban drinks party.

    The similarities between Abigail's Party and Alan Ayckbourn's slightly older Absent Friends, currently in the West End, is remarkable. Each play features two-and-a-half couples; both unfold over real time, revealing the mutual contempt beneath the marriages' carapace of civility.

    All productions of Abigail's Party are judged by the frustrated and flirtatious Beverly, the role that made Alison Steadman famous and is here played by Jill Halfpenny, who can turn vulgarity into a turn-on. The play may be a period piece, but newcomers will find that it is has as much content as it does '70s style. (Tel: 020 7378 1713)

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