The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre.
October 8, 9, 10, 11 & 12, 1985.
by Mike Leigh
Lorraine Hanner – Beverly
Alan Gray – Laurence
Suzanne Roberts – Angela
Ian Bishop – Tony
Margaret Ockenden – Sue
Stage Manager – Frances Thorne
Assistant – Sue Whittaker
Assistant – Margaret Davy
Lighting – Frank Hurrell
Sound – Ian Naylor
Set Design & Construction – Ralph Dawes
Continuity – Martin Cramp
Front of House – Mark Flower
Box Office – Jill Redman & the ‘At the Barn’ joint box office team
Programme Note #1: Abigail’s Party
KM wrote: “When I was asked to direct Wick’s first play of the season my immediate choice was Abigail’s Party. It is a play I have always loved and I saw the opportunity of directing it as a great challenge. I am extremely lucky to have gathered such an experienced cast. Lorraine Hanner and Margaret Ockenden are both long standing members of Wick, we welcome Suzanne Roberts, a new member and I am very grateful to Alan Gray and Ian Bishop, who are both appearing as ‘guests’ for the Wick.
We have had enormous fun rehearsing this production and developing the characters. For example, one night the cast went to the theatre together, each person remaining in character of the person they are portraying in the play for the whole evening. This proved an hilarious and successful venture. The profiles in this programme were also a successful venture into developing each character!
I must seriously thank the cast and crew for all their hard work and co-operation over the very short five week rehearsal period. There are some mammoth parts to learn in this play, but everyone has pulled out all the stops, resulting in what I hope you will agree is an extremely enjoyable and hilarious evening of entertainment.”
Programme Note #2: Abigail’s Party
Beverley [Lorraine Hanner] trained as a beautician at Tooting Polytechnic and later went on to become beauty consultant at Boots [Tooting Branch]. Her interest in Drama developed when she was asked to do the make-up for a production of The Mikado, in which Laurence played ‘Nanki-Poo’: they were married shortly after. Beverley’s only claim to fame was a five minute appearance on ‘Sale of the Century’, when she won £10 and an onyx and gilt coffee table. She is also a keen yoga fanatic and for the past year has been Avon representative for the Walthamstow area [please ‘phone Walthamstow 24835 for more details.]
Laurence’s [Alan Gray] interest in the theatre was sparked off when he played Juliet in his school production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet at Hadley Grammar School, at the age of thirteen. He has gone on to play a number of leading rôles with the St. Augustus Players, of whom he is a founder member. Next year hi is to try his hand at directing with a production of Agamemnon at Walthamstow Community Centre. A keen golfer and philatelist, Laurence regularly sings with the St. Augustus Church choir.
Being an extreme extrovert, it will come as no surprise that Angela [Suzanne Roberts] takes her own First Aid courses. She says “it really is important that people know how to cope in a crisis, they might, one day, have to save someone’s life!” Apart from teaching first aid, Angela’s other favourite pastimes include energetic disco dancing and preparing unusual Indian cuisine. She says “it may sound unusual, but there really are some very tasty dishes at hand, I like to try them out on my husband but he doesn’t seem to be as keen as me”. The last of Angela’s many talents is keep-fit, which she pursues with limitless energy.
Tone [Ian Bishop] would have taken part in the school plays but he went to a boys’ school and played football instead. He has dabbled in amateur dramatics, playing Richard the Third’s horse, [back end] and last year was in the chorus of Aladdin for the Walthamstow Players. He played football for Crystal Palace, but now only plays alternative week-ends, but still likes to keep fit and last year ran in the Walthamstow fun run. He is married with no children and his ambition is to travel to far-away places like Ibiza and Benidorm.
Since playing ‘Lysistra’ in the end of term production of the Cheltenham Ladies College, Susan [Margaret Ockenden] has enjoyed the thespian arts. While secretary to Giles Mason-Gibbes [Sotherby’s] she took part in the Under-Nethercote production of The Decameron [re-written by Diana Forbes-Forbes]. Susan settled for the more orthodox rôle of Maria von Trapp in The Sound of Music with the Little Saddlescombe Players, following the birth of her daughter ‘Abigail’.
Publicity #1: Abigail’s Party
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: October 4 1985 issue- page 19
Text Header: “What a party”
THE hilarious black comedy Abigail’s Party is the choice of Wick Theatre Company for their first production of the season.
Directed by young, but experienced Karen Mulholland, Abigail’s Party was made famous by its television showing in 1977. Wick will be hoping for special success with this play as they have entered it in the Brighton and Hove full-length drama competition.
One of seven companies entering the competition, Wick will be watched by an adjudicator on Thursday night.
In our picture above Lorraine Hanner takes the leading rôle of Beverley, with Alan Gray portraying Laurence. Also is shown Wick’s new member, Suzanne Roberts, as Angela, Ian Bishop making a guest appearance as Tony and Margaret Ockenden as Susan.
Publicity #2: Abigail’s Party
Publication: Brighton and Hove Leader
Publication Data: October 5 1985 issue – page 16
Text Header: “Party time – but it’s no fun”
MIKE LEIGH’S hilarious black comedy Abigail’s Party opens the Wick Theatre Company’s winter season at the Barn Theatre, Southwick. It runs from October 8 to 12 and is the Wick Theatre’s entry in Brighton and Hove Arts Council’s drama competition.
The play is set in the suburban lounge of the outrageous Beverley and her estate husband Laurence. Beverley has invited three friends along for the evening and things go from bad to worse.
Beverley is played by Lorraine Hunter, whose past performances for Wick Theatre have included Nancy in Oliver and Mrs De Winter in Rebecca.
The part of Laurence is taken by Alan Gray, whose most recent appearance was in Blondel for the Gemini Players. Other parts are taken by Suzanne Roberts, Ian Bishop and Margaret Ockenden.
The production is directed by Karen Mulholland, who has been a member of Wick Theatre for the past seven years, having appeared in their productions of The Snow Queen, Oliver and Blithe Spirit. This is her first production for the company, although she has directed Godspell for the Gemini Players and Black Comedy for the Young Wick Players.
Review #1: Abigail’s Party
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: October 18 1985 issue- page 21
Reviewer: Jocelyn Hollebone
Text Header: “Cast kept their party sparkling”
FOR sheer entertainment value and fine acting, Wick Theatre Company could not be faulted at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, last Wednesday when they staged a sparkling version of Mike Leigh’s Abigail’s Party. The large audience were in a constant state of laughter which stemmed from the witty dialogue and deliberately over-the-top acting.
With a cast of five, there was no room for mistakes and one of the hallmarks of this production was the uniform standards of acting. Much credit, however, must go to the young director, Karen Mulholland. She was given a relatively short rehearsal period of only five weeks but there was no evidence of fumbled lines or lack of preparation.
Making an impressive debut for Wick was Suzanne Roberts, with an effective portrayal of the talkative, tactless, frumpy Angela. She captured the imagination of the audience within minutes of appearing and reduced many on-lookers to fits of laughter. Another sterling performance came from Lorraine Hanner as suburban housewife Beverly. In many ways this was the most demanding rôle of all and she brought out the character’s minor traits with commendable ease.
Providing a fine foil for her acting talents was stage husband Laurence, played by experienced and popular Alan Gray. His sensitive acting gave some credibility to the heart attack scene, which was notable for hysteria and screaming women. Rounding off the cast were Margaret Ockenden and Ian Bishop, who gave well balanced and convincing performances.
Comment #1: Abigail’s Party
Publication: Wick’s Newsletter – Issued October 1985
Author: Edited by Neil Shephard
“Dear Wick Member, where else can I begin this third newsletter but the success of our opening production Abigail’s Party, especially when the praises and great enjoyment it engendered are still fresh in the memory? Many, many congratulations to Karen and her team, both on, and back, stage. Season ’85 – ’86 is underway with a bang, not a whimper, and it’s also gratifying to be able to record that the week’s houses were generally good.
An extra bonus, however, was the excellent adjudication the production received from Barrie Roach on the Thursday evening. He praised several aspects, especially the acting. It may be invidious to single anyone out in what was essentially a ‘team effort’, but particular congratulations must go Lorraine for her full marks from the adjudicator for her excellent, sustained performance as Beverley.
Barrie Roach’s summary was: “A very exciting production, which was extremely well acted”, and I’m sure these sentiments were echoed by many people during a very enjoyable week.”