Sunday, 20 May 2012

Abigail's Party, Wyndham's Theatre, 32-36 Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0DA

A couple of months ago we bought tickets to go to see a matinee performance of Mike Leigh's 'Abigail's Party' at the Wyndham Theatre. It seemed like a good idea at the time while I was a lot more mobile. "One final theatre visit" we thought, but yesterday, when the day came, I would have paid quite a large sum of money not to have gone. The bump weighs a tonne, the need for toilet stops is constant, as I can't move very fast I get relentlessly barged into / shoved past / knocked around by Joe Public and the trains from Hackney were buggered. But since we had bought the tickets and had really good seats (Row B, second from the front), we hauled my bulk up to Charing Cross Road yesterday for the 3pm performance.

I haven't been up 'West' for about 3.5 weeks since stopping work and really felt like I was looking at the place with 'fresh eyes' yesterday. Roadworks everywhere, bus diversions, suspended train services and trillions of people - Welcome to London! I've been working in Soho for 16 years and never really noticed before how hectic it is. With not very much apart from my laptop and Radio 2 for company these last few weeks it was a real shock to be amongst so many people. However, I'm so glad we persevered as the play was brilliant.

First of all, I'd never been to The Wyndham's before and it is stunning.

Theatre lovely, weather not so lovely.

Its not a very big theatre but the architecture and interior is amazing. As I said, we splashed out slightly and got really good seats but I think if we had got any of the less pricey tickets we would have had an equally good view of the stage. The theatre is not so huge that if you were sat further away from the stage you wouldn't see anything, all the seats looked good to me.

Beautiful theatre ceiling, dodgy photo taken whilst trying not to get told off. 
Photography is Verboten!

Lovely balconies.

'Abigail's Party' was written in 1977 and "is a suburban situation comedy of manners, and a satire on the aspirations and tastes of the new middle class that emerged in Britain in the 1970s". I would think the most famous performance of this play is the one starring Alison Steadman as the character of Beverly which was filmed also in 1977. I've seen countless clips of this but never watched it in its entirety so to be honest, I didn't know the story too well.  This is probably one of the most well known scenes:

The stage play stuck very closely to the TV version / original play even down to the set which looked eerily like it could have been based on my front room in Kelvedon Hatch in the 1970's.

Stage set of 'Abigail's Party'.

My front room circa 1979. A vision of orange and brown, apart from my outfit which I can only presume was some sort of fancy dress. Unless my parents really did hate me and they dressed me up like that as some sort of cruel punishment / joke... This photo also brings back painful memories of another kind: The Glass Door. *Shudder* Firstly, my older brother used to sleep walk and could apparently be found most nights with his face pressed up against the glass thus scaring my father shitless in the process. And secondly I smashed my way through this door sometime after this photo was taken. My Dad often used to move the furniture round at home (it was cheaper and less hassle than moving house) and once he put two armchairs either side of this door. One day I decided it would be good fun to swing between the two armchairs using them to propel me as far forward onto the carpet as I could. However, being less Olga Korbut and more Ronnie Corbett I let go of the chairs too soon and swung backwards. Straight through the glass to the other side. Ouch.

Anyway, the performance was superb. Jill Halfpenny (Byker Grove, Eastenders, Strictly) as Beverley was by far the best thing about the play and although her characterization seemed very similar to the Alison Steadman version she did a wonderful job. I did find one of the characters slightly over the top but I wont say which one in case you go and see it. Overall though, it was a brilliant play and I would rate it a very high 9 pineapple chunks of cocktail sticks out of a possible 10. Absolutely worth the bladder pain, you really should try and go to see it!


  1. That last photograph is amazing :) We had a similar glass door I do believe!

    The play also sounds good!

    Not long for you now, I have just got back to Munich after a mad dash back to be with my sister in labour. I had been in the house twenty minutes when he suddenly decided he didn't fancy going to hospital and home was a better option!!!

    Good luck with everything, get those towels ready just in case!! :)

    1. Wozers! Born at home? He was keen to get out! I'm hoping I make it to the hospital but I want to leave it until the last minute before I go so who knows.

      Thanks for the 'Good Luck' wishes, the towels are on stand by along with a large glass of Vino Collapso!


  2. Ahh, thanks Chazzy Poo's xx I miss Mount Pleasant :(