Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch
Reviewed – 6th September 2018
“a well-crafted reply to the undertones of Mike Leigh’s play”
‘Abi’, a contemporary response piece to Abigail’s Party, is a one woman play in which Abigail’s granddaughter navigates growing up, family, and figments of the past.
The repurposed set of the party is punctuated with cardboard boxes. The play begins, once again, with a dance. This music, however, is played through a phone connected to a wireless speaker. Abi is having a party at her grandmother, Abigail’s, house even though Abigail is in hospital at the moment. Luke is due to be the first to arrive. They’ve been talking online for months now and this will be her first chance to meet him and her naive optimism becomes increasingly painful to watch.
Atiha Sen Gupta draws some very clever parallels between the original play and her response, drawing us down a completely unanticipated path, in a well-crafted reply to the undertones of Mike Leigh’s earlier play. The piece manages to find the balance between conversational entertainment and politically engaged material, considering race, gender, sex education, online relationships and sexual assault.
The writing does occasionally meander slightly unnaturally, but it is carried by Safiyya Ingar who, as Abi, is warm, immediately likeable and full of energy. Her impressions, too, are sharp and recognisable. Ingar delivers a fantastic performance and is a pleasure to watch.
This is an engaged, genuine and contemporary response to ‘Abigail’s Party’, uncovering the darker underside of Abigail’s party decades earlier, delivered by a brilliant performance from Safiyya Ingar.
Reviewed by Amelia Brown
Photography by Mark Sepple
Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch until 22nd September
Abigail’s Party is running alongside Abi – review here
Previously reviewed at this venue: