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Abigail's Party

Abigail's Party is a 1977 play for stage and television created by Mike Leigh. It is a suburban situation comedy of manners, and a painfully well-observed satire on the aspirations and tastes of the new middle class that emerged in Britain in the 1970s. The television version was simply the stage version filmed directly, with no adaptation. It was shown as part of the BBC's famous Play for Today series.

The original play starred Alison Steadman as Beverly, and Tim Stern as her husband Laurence. They are holding a dinner party for their new neighbours Angela (Janine Duvitski), and her husband Tony (John Salthouse). They also invite Susan (Harriet Reynolds), another neighbour. Abigail herself is never seen - she is Susan's 15 year-old daughter who is holding her first teenage party next door.

The plot is very simple, revolving around the one-upmanship of the two couples, and the tension of Beverly and Laurence's barely functional marriage. As the alcohol takes effect, Beverly becomes increasingly attracted to Tony, as Laurence sits impotently by. After a tirade about art, he collapses after choking on something. Within this simple framework, all of the obsessions, prejudices and petty competitiveness of the protagonists is ruthlessly exposed.

Channel Four's reviewer said: "Abigail's Party still ranks as the most painful hundred minutes in British comedy-drama."

Abigail's Party appeared in a Radio Times poll to find the top 40 greatest TV shows on British television, published in August, 2003.

In 2003 the TV version was released on a BBC video and DVD. As of 2003 a stage version is still running in London's West End.