"Abigail brings Derby Double Trouble"
by Debra Hall for remotegoat on 03/10/18

Abigail is 15 and throwing a party, but it is neighbours Beverly and Laurence’s home where the scenes take place. Abigail, actually, is an unseen character. We get to know her through means of association.

Beverly then, is playing host to a little neighbourly gathering. Abigail’s mum, Susan (Sue), is last to arrive and she’s feeling a little uptight. Sue joins new to the street Angela (Ange) and Tony (Tone) on the three-piece suite. Ange is over chatty and overly enthusiastic, while Tone is not relaxed being part of this social get together. Meanwhile, workaholic and pent up Laurence dashes in and out.

Frivolous Beverly, wearing a maxi halter-neck and high heeled wedges constantly thrusts spirit mixer drinks, refills, chasers, and cigarettes at everyone; so the drinking impacts on these people pretty quickly. Clearly disgruntled with her lot, she becomes increasingly predatory and bitchy as the evening unfolds.

This is a wonderful, long-haul, observational piece with the attention on the interaction between both sets of couples with Sue getting caught up in the volatile mix - and they’re all of the thinking that Abigail is the one misbehaving!

This new production of Abigail’s Party is one to be proud of. This is a truthful, intelligent version of the play. Perfectly cast and altogether fabulous attention to detail by the creatives. The characterisations appear to be straightforward but these characters are pretty intense and scenes are deceivably difficult. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the faces of actors soften quite as much as these five at their curtain call. Well done!

Review of ABI

Abi is the granddaughter of the original Abigail from her teenage party. Again, the original Abigail (now at the end of her life) is the story focus and is mentioned lots, but, again, we do not actually meet her.

This hour-long play is performed solely by Safiyya Ingar as Abi. The set is almost the same; just a few updates to furnishings and made a little sparser with items packed away. The landline has been ditched and we have Abi constantly using her smart phone. The record player is still in situ but is redundant. Abi’s ‘plugging in’ comes in the form of digital multimedia and social media through her handheld device. Ingar injects such realism to Abi. Abi is excitable, hopeful, insecure, impressionable; opiniated.

Ingar exudes energy in her performance; she’s dabbing; she’s Bhangra. She’s a marvel! Though she lost the close attention of her audience towards the end; maybe a few edits? Cutting the length down to 50 minutes would work without losing its important messages or any of its charm.

AbI is the fourth play in a RETOLD series. Readers of this review may well agree with Abi’s writer Atiha Sen Gupta that Mike Leigh left a particular Abigail’s Party story thread unexplained. Therefore, albeit rather tenuously, Sen Gupta has been able to attach and rework this element of story to one of the serious themes of Abi - being the age-old problem of society imposed sexualisation.

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