Written 40 years ago, Mike Leigh’s classic Abigail’s Party is as popular with audiences now as it was at the time.
It’s the party with everything – comedy, drama and satire. Beverly and Laurence Moss decide to invite their new neighbours Tony and Angela Cooper over to dinner, just to get to know them.
They also invite another neighbour recently divorced Susan Lawson who is fretting as her teenage daughter Abigail (of the title, but never seen) is throwing a party too.
What seemed like a god idea soon turns into a nightmare for everyone involved. So expect to cringe when it runs at the Oxford Playhouse from Monday April 3 to Saturday April 8.
And the nerves are just starting to kick in for actress Amanda Abbington who plays Beverly, as she prepares for her first stage show in nearly two years.
The 43-year-old is best known for playing Dr Watson’s wife Mary in Sherlock.
“I’m really nervous about it,” she said. “I haven’t done it for, like, two years so I’m absolutely dreading it.
“But I have to do it because I really wanted to do a piece of theatre.
“It hones your acting muscle and my acting muscle needed a bit of exercise so when this gift of a part came along I thought ‘You only live once so you have to be bold and brave and you have to take it on because you’re going to be playing Beverly, which is just an amazing role’.
“It’s about taking it, embracing it, running with the fear and anxiety and seeing what happens – but I’m absolutely terrified.
“I might just do it completely drunk, going on stage completely hammered like some of the old actors used to in the 1940s.”
The 1970s piece saw Alison Steadman as Beverly, and Amanda admitted to watching the original continuously to get the character right.
“It’s about getting the essence of Alison, because you can’t get away from how she created the character,” Amanda said.
“But, you’ll also see my own take on her and trying to make her a little bit different to Alison.
“You can’t get too far away from her because it’s her words and her creation.
“It’s about paying homage to Alison and the character plus it’s such an amazing role because Beverly is flawed and funny.
“I’m looking forward to delving into all that.”
She added: “I think Mike Leigh is one of our finest creators and directors and it was such an iconic play in the 1970s.
“Alison Steadman made it such an iconic part and the writing is so strong, the subject matter is so strong and it’s a lovely period piece.”
The show is suitable for anyone over the age of 12.
Tickets cost from £15 to £32.50.