Mike Leigh’s classic satire of the aspirational middle classes of the 1970s is being brought to Haverhill Arts Centre next week by the town’s award-winning Centre Stage Company.
Directing the play are probably the youngest duo to do so for the Centre Stage; 18-year-old Charlotte Scammerton and fellow teenager Charlotte Allin.
The former of the two is already something of a seasoned hand after nine years with the company and many different roles, most recently as Herbal Essences in Rapunzel.
This is a new challenge though, but it is one that Charlotte has so far thoroughly enjoyed, as she explained: “I never realised how much work goes on behind the scenes.
“It’s been difficult because I didn’t know how much work goes into it but it’s been brilliant because we’ve got such a great set, we’ve got brilliant costumes and such a great cast.
“After the read through they all sort of embodied their characters and just went with it.
“Me and Charlotte (Allin) both looked at this and said ‘we really want to do something different and this is the perfect place to start.’
“It’s got such a small cast and it’s quite straight forward because it’s all set in one place.
“It’s brilliant and I’m glad we have both done it.”
The play has an advisory note that it is only suitable for anyone aged 16 and over due to some of the content.
The comedy is based on Leigh’s original script and tells the story of husband and wife Beverly and Laurence Moss, who are hosting a drinks party at their house, complete with standard 1970s accoutrements, party snacks and drinks, such as pineapple and cheese on sticks, nuts and gin and tonics.
Beverly’s desire is to be the best hostess ever to their three guests, married couple Tony and Angela Cooper and divorcee Susan Lawson, whose daughter Abigail is actually throwing a party at their home at the same time, hence the title of the play (although Abigail is never seen).
Abigail’s Party features two newcomers to The Centre Stage ; Dylan Cooper (Tony) and Nic Hedges (Laurence), plus Jane Baillie (Beverly), Rebecca Boyd (Angela) and Emma Letcher (Susan).
The two acts of the play are set in just one place, The Moss’s front room, but the witty script, strong performances and the underlying issues of the characters keep the story bubbling along and the audience engaged.
From the opening scene, in which Beverly is seen dancing to Donna Summer’s disco classic, Love to Love You Baby, and all the way through, the play has a backdrop of great 70s tunes.
Abigail’s Party is on at the arts centre at 7.30pm on Thursday, March 17, Friday 18 and Saturday 19. There is also a 2.30pm matinee on Saturday. For tickets call the arts centre box office on 01440 71410.