A wonderfully sharp portrayal of middle class aspirations forty years on from its original staging, Melbourne Theatre Company presents Abigail’s Party, Mike Leigh’s iconic satire of 1970s British suburbia, at the Southbank Theatre from 22 March 2018.
It is the suburban drinks party from hell. Desperate-to-impress Beverly and her staid real estate agent husband Laurence are the hosts. The guests are their neighbours: eager-to-please nurse Angela with her bully-boy husband Tony, and divorcee Susan who’s steering clear of her daughter Abigail’s own party down the road.
Over cheese and pineapple sticks, Demis Roussos records and copious amounts of alcohol, we witness one disastrous evening of social awkwardness, outrageous flirting, cringe worthy one-upmanship and hilarious put-downs.
Director Stephen Nicolazzo (Merciless Gods) brings together a stunning cast including Zoe Boesen (The Moors), Pip Edwards (Ghosts), Daniel Frederiksen (Matilda: The Musical), Benjamin Rigby (Alien: Covenant) and Katherine Tonkin (Three Little Words) as he makes his MTC mainstage debut in this lavish revival of Mike Leigh’s cult-classic play.
“Abigail’s Party is a kitsch, grotesque and heart-breaking satire that dissects class and sexuality with a razor sharp blade; it is both a domestic nightmare and a divine farce,” said Nicolazzo. “Mike Leigh’s ability to bring humanity and humour to the darkest of situations and create characters that are bold, flawed, and hysterically funny is key to the success of a play like Abigail’s Party.”
“It is an audacious classic and I am thrilled to bring it to Melbourne Theatre Company for the very first time. If you love Donna Summer, bad hors d’oeuvres, palazzo pants and drunken arguments, Abigail’s Party will satiate with its transgressive portrayal of the pre-Thatcher era.”
Mike Leigh is one of the world’s most influential dramatists and filmmakers. He has written and directed over 20 stage plays including Babies Grow Old, Abigail’s Party, Ecstasy, Goose-Pimples, Smelling A Rat, Greek Tragedy, It’s A Great Big Shame!, Two Thousand Years and Grief. Most recently he directed the highly praised biographical film of British artist J.M. Turner, Mr. Turner.
His first feature film was Bleak Moments, followed by full-length television films Hard Labour, Nuts In May, The Kiss of Death, Who’s Who, Grown-Ups, Home Sweet Home, Meantime and Four Days In July. His other feature films are High Hopes, Life Is Sweet, Naked, Secrets & Lies, Career Girls, Topsy-Turvy, All Or Nothing, Vera Drake, Happy-Go-Lucky and Another Year.
Stephen Nicolazzo is a Melbourne-based theatre director and the Artistic Director of Little Ones Theatre. His acclaimed work for Little Ones Theatre includes Merciless Gods, Dracula (with Theatre Works), Dangerous Liaisons (for MTC NEON, Darwin festival and Brisbane Powerhouse), The House of Yes (with Theatre Works), Salome (with Malthouse Theatre), Special Victim (Adelaide Cabaret Festival), and Psycho Beach Party (with Tamarama Rock Surfers/Theatre Works/Midsumma Festival/Brisbane Festival).
Stephen’s other directing credits include Meme Girls (Malthouse Theatre), sex.violence.blood.gore (MKA), Negative Energy Inc (Theatre Works/Midsumma Festival), Women of Troy (Cellblock Theatre), Suddenly Last Summer (Cellblock Theatre), and Home Economics (The Store Room). He has been nominated for two Green Room Awards for Best Direction. He studied at the University of Melbourne (Creative Arts, 2008) and NIDA (Directing, 2010).
“An evening of escapism to the past which is every bit as dramatic, funny and relevant now as ever.” – Huffington Post
Director: Stephen Nicolazzo Featuring: Zoe Boesen, Pip Edwards, Daniel Frederiksen, Benjamin Rigby, Katherine Tonkin Set Designer: Anna Cordingley Costume Designer: Eugyeene Teh Lighting Designer: Katie Sfetkidis Composer & Sound Designer: Daniel Nixon Voice & Dialect Coach: Geraldine Cook-Dafner
The Sumner – Southbank Theatre, Southbank Boulevard, Southbank
Season: 22 March – 21 April 2018
Information and Bookings: www.mtc.com.au
Image: courtesy of Melbourne Theatre Company