Beyond the Rainbow
at Brentwood Theatre
The wallpaper screams Seventies, there's an unused rotisserie in the kitchen, and in the lounge, five neighbours making clumsy conversation.
Mike Leigh's classic Abigail's Party was lovingly recreated by Beyond The Rainbow – a sell-out success for this charity gig by a brand new group.
Rachel Adams directed and produced; she still found time to give us a text-book Beverly, with the cloying bitchiness, the social pretensions and of course that dress.
As Angie, the gauche nurse, Stephanie Lodge gave a convincingly nuanced performance, with a grating laugh and a touching eagerness to please. She's already regretting her marriage to ex-footballer Tony, a terse presence from James Taylor. Estate Agent Laurence, his restlessness and his high colour presaging his demise, was Maxi Tilyard. The token normal person, exiled from her home by the teenage Abigail and her unsuitable friends, was Lauren Goodwin's Sue.
One weakness of an enjoyable production was the sightlines – deep sofas and a shallow rake meant that much of the dialogue was in audio only, and Angie's heroic efforts with the dying Laurence were left entirely to our imagination. A particular strength was the carefully crafted interchange between characters – Ange and Bev's cosmetic duologue, for instance.