The scene below brought back memories of growing up in the 70s: bold patterned wallpaper (we had the most...ahem, extraordinary black and white geometric pattern on our kitchen walls when I was a kid), shag pile carpet and orange, orange, orange...
The play follows its five protagonists who gather to while away the hours as Sue's 15 year old daughter hosts her own party down the street. Laurence and Beverly host, complete with nuts, cheesy pineapple sticks and copious amounts of alcohol, and give the audience a sense of their toxic relationship right from the outset.
Before long, the new neighbours arrive. Tony, handsome and morose, sparks a predatory gleam in Beverly's eye, and Ange, gauche and outspoken, seems to say all the wrong things at the most inopportune times. Long-time resident Sue arrives last, conservative and mousey. And so this freakish five are left to careen slowly towards the play's shocking climax.
Mike Leigh has the ability to cut to the very heart of our human foibles.
Selfish, opinionated Essex girl Beverly is hell-bent on her gin-fuelled binge while Ange faux-pas her way through several G&Ts herself as she tries valiantly to fill the uncomfortable silences. And the men? Well Tony stays stoic under Beverly's lascivious eye and Laurence flaps about, swinging between conciliatory concern for his guests and violent fury at his wife. And Sue tries, politely yet unsuccessfully, to stay aloof from them all. The whole evening is just awkward.
And absolutely hilarious.
I am told that no-one does Beverly like Alison Steadman, but for the rest of my life, I don't think I will ever forget Jill Halfpenny, gyrating on the cream shag rug in her mint green maxi dress...to Demis Roussos.
The end is not all happy-happy and tied up with a bow and I did leave the theatre thinking it was all over with a whimper rather suddenly. But that certainly didn't detract from a very entertaining and laugh-out-loud kind of evening.
Even if it was all a little bit...aaaaawkward.
Bookings are open up to 1st September but if you are anything like me - marking something mentally that I'd like to see, then never getting around to booking until it's finished that is - you should google theatre deals and Abigail's Party and get yourself along...
...or before you know it, it'll be curtains.