Witnessing Worsley’s WITS was Wonderful

On my first ever trip to Worsley Court House; I had the pleasure of witnessing the proceedings of Worsley Intimate Theatre (WITS)’s final show of their current season, in the form of Mike Leigh’s Abigail’s Party.

Performed ‘in the round’ (well, with seating at two sides), the play is set in the home of Estate Agent Laurence (Simon Griffiths) and his domineering wife Beverly (Julie Cunningham) in the 1970s. Material woman Beverly has decided to invite their new neighbours over for drinks and nibbles and invites old neighbour Sue (Sarah Kirk) round to join them, after she is urged away from her daughter’s party.


New neighbours; computer programming operator Tony (Nicholas Eccles) and his talkative wife Angela (Lisa Harrison) are made to feel at home with the help of (quite) a few gin and tonics, some light ales and a few fags/cigars, before being asked all kinds of weird questions and experiencing all manner of uncomfortableness, from arguments between their hosts and alcohol-induced vomiting from Sue, to loud music from the record player and the tragic occurrence of Laurence’s fatal heartburn in the final scene.

With laughter throughout, the contrast between light-hearted and tense moments is clear and perfectly dynamic; with an effective set that it well-suited to the period, as is Tony’s attire (bell-bottoms/flairs).

At just £8.50 (I know!), you certainly feel part of the party, even without any dialogue being directed to you. It really is just like looking through the window of an upmarket house on Richmond Road; so much so, I would happily pay the £12-£15 that some amateur societies charge.

Directed by John Cunningham, there wasn’t a dropped line to be heard and each character was so real. I was captivated and engrossed in the intimacy of this brilliantly performed show, literally on the edge of my seat. Although I did feel for the audience set behind the armchair where Beverley was based for the most part, when she wasn’t ‘topping up’, dancing or sniping.

The jury’s out that the play’s title is about the very thing the cast look out of the window to observe rather than the thing that the audience see in action. The magic of dramatic irony!

There is no doubt I will be returning to the small but comfortable performance space for future treats from this group.

Abigail’s Party is on at Worsley Court House, Barton Road until Friday. Book by calling Battersbys on 0161 790 2842

Reviewer: Chris Oatway

Reviewed: 30th April 2015