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Abigail's Party, King's Theatre, Edinburgh

England may have been dreaming when Mike Leigh devised his now iconic suburban drama in 1977, but the Thatcherite nightmare was already looming.

In this respect, this painful tale of warped aspiration set against a living-room backdrop of garish fixtures and fittings now looks as much like prophecy as the wall-paper appears retro-chic.

Leigh's play focuses on one night at home with Beverly and Laurence, who are hosting an open-house to meet their new neighbours, Angela and Tony. Also on the guest list is middle-aged divorcee Susan, whose teenage daughter Abigail is having a very different kind of gathering to the ones the grown-ups are painfully stumbling through.

With such a set of perfect stereotypes, it would be easy to resort to 1970s theme bar kitsch in Lindsay Posner's production for the Theatre Royal, Bath and the Chocolate Factory, and redirected for this tour by Tom Attenburgh. Yet here it more resembles Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? reimagined by the real-life grotesques of The Only Way Is Essex.

As soon as Beverly puts a bottle of Beaujolais in the fridge, it's tragically apparent that here is a play that possibly says more about the British class system at a particular point in late 20th century history than any other. Hannah Waterman gives Beverly a monstrous and tragic depth. Old before her time, she's playing house in a loveless nouveau-riche hell of relentless small-talk punctuated by her desperate dry-humping of Tony. Meanwhile, the punk rock revolution is already being soundtracked next door with Abigail and co, who appear to be rewriting a very different future for themselves which is about to turn the world upside down.


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