November 12 – December 3, 2016
TBG Main Stage Theatre, 312 West 36 St
“Abigail’s Party” may be the most uncomfortable comedy in New York right now, and I’d sit through it again in a second. Here, humor and unpleasantness are intertwined, and that leads to laughs — many, many laughs — that are part gleeful and part appalled… a must-see.”The New York Times
Mike Leigh’s “Abigail’s Party” 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. The play captures epic denial in London suburbia and even though penned in 1977, Leigh points out, “It still hits a nerve about the way we live.”
The play’s action takes place in Essex, a suburb of London, in 1977. Beverly and Laurence invite their new neighbors Angela and Tony over for a welcome drink. They are joined another neighbor, Sue, whose 16-year old daughter Abigail is having a party down the road. They drink throughout the evening and as they comically and tragically lose their guard, chaos ensues. Like so much of Mike Leigh’s brilliant work, this play reveals human frailties in a beautifully revealed, hilarious, and remarkably stirring way.
“Abigail’s Party” will kick off our season and we’re really excited about it! This brilliantly observed comedy makes a perfect match for TBG’s spontaneous approach. We’ve teamed up with The Pond Theatre Company to bring you this production and assembled a stellar group of actors (Colleen Clinton*, Lily Dorment*, Nick Hetherington*, John Pirkis* and Sarah Street). Under the helm of TBG’s Co-Artistic Director, Lee Brock, this will be an incredibly fun way to start the season!
*AEA approved Showcase
About Mike Leigh, playwright…
Mike Leigh was born in Salford on February 20, 1943, the son of a doctor, and was educated at Salford Grammar School before gaining a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1960. This was followed by spells at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts, the Central School of Art and Design, and the London Film School. In 1965 he started to devise and direct his own plays, completing nine before the production of Bleak Moments at the Open Space Theatre in 1970.
In the years between Bleak Moments and High Hopes (1988), his next fully-fledged cinema film, Leigh made nine feature-length television plays, as well as shorts and theatrical productions. Leigh encouraged actors to go beyond the naturalistic in their characterisations; desperate situations, masked by humour, are caught unflinchingly by dramatic lighting and an often static, but precisely positioned camera.
The best-known of these television plays is Abigail’s Party, a quickly taped studio reconstruction of one of Leigh’s most successful stage works. Despite the fact that it was conceived for the stage rather than television, it became a comedic tour-de-force that impinged on the English national psyche.
More on Mike Leigh here: