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Abigail's Party (1977)

Original Title : Abigail's Party
Director : Mike Leigh
Writer : Mike Leigh
Genre : Comedy
Country : UK
Language : English
Producer : Margaret Matheson
IMDB ID : 0075622
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poster for "Abigail's Party" by Mike Leigh (1977)
Abigail's Party (1977) - Mike Leigh
 

Starring

Alison Steadman Beverly
Tim Stern I
Janine Duvitski Angela
John Salthouse Tony
Harriet Reynolds Susan
 

Plot

A TV play based on the Hampstead Theatre production. Beverly has invited her new neighbours, Angela and Tony, over for drinks. She has also asked her divorced neighbour, Sue, because Sue's fifteen year-old daughter, Abigail, was holding a party in their house. Beverly's husband, Lawrence comes home late from work, just before the guests arrive. The gathering starts off in a stiff insensitive British middle class way with people who do not know each other, until Beverly and Lawrence start sniping at each other.
 

Comments

Wow. Abigail's Party - and I am the first person to comment on it? This is certainly an interesting film. In parts it's riotously funny... I mean laugh-out-loud funny... the characters are all obnoxious (except perhaps Sue) with traits that'll make you thank the Lord that they are not your neighbours or friends. The tension just rises and rises through the film... you know it's building up to something big... by the end though it's damn depressing. You hate these characters, you want to shout at them! But the acting is brilliant. Alison Steadman's Beverly full of clichés and tartiness, with a voice that gives you the creeps. Tim Stern (Laurence), the hen-pecked husband, an uptight little weasel and an intellectual snob. Angela (Jane Duvitski), weak and ineffectual, annoying as hell, easily-led, yet comes through the whole thing with more strength than the others. John Salthouse as Tony is a magnificent character, you can feel his anger brewing underneath this quiet exterior. And then there's Susan, played by Harriet Reynolds, whose unseen daughter Abigail is the one having the party. Sue's the one who gets thrown in with all these misfits... poor thing. The setting is claustrophobic, the humour is full on, sometimes though it just gets a little too nasty for words, and leaves a rather bittersweet taste. Funny it may be but it's a bloody painful ride, and though it's looking seriously dated, it's still a fascinating piece of work.