I've just been seduced into watching, for the umpteenth time, the wonderfully awful Abigail's Party (Mike Leigh, 1977). Actually, I think I've only once seen it all the way through - because in many ways it's too painful to watch. I expect this is partly an age thing - these tight suits with the wide lapels and flared trousers, the big ties which appeared to throttle their owner were a feature of early married life chez Blethers, though I drew the line at the awful voluminous dress worn by Beverly (Alison Steadman, in pic). And these dire parties where the grapefruit stuck with cocktail sticks of pineapple, cheddar and cocktail onions - who ever thought that a reasonable combination? And everyone knocking back the booze and becoming sillier and sillier, and always someone in the loo throwing up - it was always such a relief to get home again, and yet we persisted.
Of course the toe-curling joy of this play lies in the dialogue, consisting almost entirely of vapid platitudes and attempts at small-talk. Beverly in particular addresses everyone as if they were a half-witted child, while her doomed husband tries desperately to maintain a veneer of sophistication. It's a play which makes me thankful for serious conversation and intelligent friends - and the joy of going home at the end of an evening sober.
Or, come to think of it, an evening spent blogging.