A comedy by English playwright Mike Leigh. First produced at the Hampstead Theatre, London in July 1977, having been developed from scratch through improvisation. Broadcast unadapted as a BBC1 ‘Play for Today’ in November 1977, and probably the best-known TV play of the 1970s. Revived in 2003 in London’s West End.
Performed by BATS at St. Teilo’s Church Hall, Bishopston on 21st, 22nd, 27th, 28th & 29th November, 2003. Tickets £4, senior citizens £3.
Raffle raised £300 for Children In Need.
A suburban situation comedy of manners, self-consciously theatrical, and a painfully well-observed satire on the aspirations and tastes of the new middle class that emerged in Britain in the 1970s.
The action takes place entirely in the living room of the overbearing Beverly and her husband Laurence, who are holding a dinner party for their new neighbours, Angela and her husband Tony. They also invite Susan, another neighbour. Neither Abigail nor her party are ever seen – Abigail is Susan’s 15 year-old daughter, and is holding her first teenage party at Susan’s house down the road.
There is little real plot, the scenes revolving around the one-upmanship of the two couples, and the tension of Beverly and Laurence’s dysfunctional marriage. As the alcohol takes effect, Beverly becomes increasingly attracted to Tony, as Laurence sits impotently by. The play ends when Laurence, after a tirade about art, collapses after choking on something and dies.
But within this simple framework, all the obsessions, prejudices and petty competitiveness of the protagonists, are ruthlessly exposed, Beverly especially, as the archetype of the aspiring middle-class woman. Her lack of identity is hidden behind received ideas of taste. Her motivation remains unclear; she easily controls the others but they seem to give her little in return, except fuel for her misplaced sense of power and mastery.
- Barry Cooper
Cast (in order of appearance)
- ‘Beverly’ ~ Julie Greenwood
- ‘Laurence’ ~ Stewart Hiorns
- ‘Angela’ ~ Helen Gallagher
- ‘Tony’ ~ Ian Evans
- ‘Susan’ ~ Denise Currell
- Stage Manager ~ Alan Bailey
- Assistants ~ Wynne Davies, Dorothy Morris, Barry Cooper, Jean Griffiths, Tony Currell, Simon Ellett
- Prompt ~ Alison Shepherd
- Props ~ Jean Griffiths
- Costumes ~ Heather Cooper
- Hair & Make-up ~ The cast
- Front-of-house, Refreshments ~ David Spear, Barbara Spear, Maureen Bailey, Tony Currell, Dorothy Morris, Heather Cooper, Philippa Cooper, Maria Brawn, Eileen Winson, Alison Hiorns, Val Hiorns