Abigail's Party

Written by Mike Leigh

April 2024

Directed by Alan Ward

AuthorMike Leigh

Mike Leigh is an award-winning playwright, theatre and film director, and screenwriter.Leigh’s work is distinctive for its detailed, organic content and his lengthy, improvisational rehearsal style. He begins his projects without a script, but starts from a basic premise that is then developed through improvisation by the actors.

Leigh wrote a string of television plays throughout the 1970s, including his best known work, Abigail's Party, which was originally written for the stage. Subsequent plays include Ecstasy (1979), Greek Tragedy (1989), Two Thousand Years (2005), and Grief (2011).

Leigh has also written and directed extensively for film, achieving critical praise for works such as Secrets and Lies (1996), Topsy-Turvy (1999), Vera Drake (2004), Happy-Go-Lucky (2008), Another Year (2010), and the biopics Mr. Turner (2014) and Peterloo (2018)

PlayAbigail's Party

Let’s travel back to the 1970s and a time of cheese and pineapple on sticks, paisley prints, and Dennis Rousseau. This evening, suburban socialite Beverly and her husband Laurence are hosting a drinks party, despite Laurence arriving home late from work. They have invited their new neighbors, married couple Tony and Angela, along with their recently divorced, next door neighbor Susan, who has been banished from her home as her teenage daughter Abigail is throwing her first party. As the drinks flow, tensions rise.

The play was written as a television play for the BBC in 1977 and famously starred Alison Steadman in the main role. Originally developed through lengthy improvisations, Abigail’s Party is a biting satire of British middle-class aspirations in the 1970s.

The Bench Production

Abigail's Party

Cast

Beverly Sarah Ash
Laurence Brendan Gaudian
Angela Jo Langfield
Tony Craig Parker
Susan Di Wallsgrove

Crew

Director Alan Ward
Producer Alan & Marion Ward
Stage Manager Marion Ward
Assistant Stage Manager Janice Halsey
Lighting Design Richard Stacey
Sound Design Howard Alston
Lighting Operation Richard Stacey
Sound Operation ...
Set Design Alan Ward
Paintings David Penrose
Flyer Design Emily Harlow & Dan Finch
Programme Editor Derek Callum
Photography John Ash

Director's Notes

Reviews

Production Photographs