HARD to believe, but it’s now 40 years since the appalling Beverly first put Donna Summer on the record turntable, stacked a plate with little cheesey-pineapple ones, plied her guests with alcohol, cigarettes and Demis Roussos and slow-danced her way across the shag-pile into theatrical history.

So if you fancy witnessing the drinks party from hell then head for Malvern.

The party begins when Beverly and estate agent husband Laurence invite round new neighbours, Tony and Ange, along with nervous divorcee Sue, jittery about the bash her teenage daughter, Abigail, is throwing up the road.

As that party reportedly gets out of hand, this one too descends into chaos, and comedy, drama and tragedy combine into an iconic piece of theatre.

Hilarious and horribly compelling, Mike Leigh’s Abigail’s Party is an undisputed classic.
 Ruthlessly accurate and painfully funny this observation of the pretensions of suburbia comedy became an instant classic when it first appeared as a BBC Play For Today in 1977, the year of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.

It will star Amanda Abbington who is best-known for playing Mary Morstan in Sherlock, Miss Mardle in Mr Selfridge and DS Jo Moffat in Cuffs and joining her are Ben Caplan (PC Noakes in Call the Midwife, Sunny Afternoon in the West End) as Laurence, Rose Keegan (Stepping Out on tour, Bedroom Farce in the West End) as Susan, Charlotte Mills (Jerusalem) as Angela and Ciarán Owens (Mad World My Masters) as Tony.

Abigail’s Party will be at Malvern’s Festival Theatre from next tonight through to Saturday, April 22.