Kellie Shirley to star in Abigail’s Party at Park Theatre

Last Updated on 2 October 2021 by Showcall Editorial Team

Kellie Shirley is to play Beverly in a new revival of Abigail’s Party by Mike Leigh at London’s Park Theatre

Abigail's Party Park Theatre
Kellie Shirley in Abigail’s Party

Former EastEnders star Kellie Shirley is to play the iconic role of Beverly in a revival of Mike Leigh’s classic play, Abigail’s Party, at London’s Park Theatre.

Shirley, who is a familiar face on TV after playing Carly Wicks in EastEnders, will be joined by Ryan Early – best known as the voice of Lee Bryce in The Archers – as Beverly’s husband, Laurence. The cast also includes Emma Noakes and Barbara D’Alterio.

The revival of the classic 1970s dark comedy of manners will run at Park Theatre from 10 November to 4 December, with press night on 11 November.

It is directed by Vivienne Garnett and presented by Brill Productions, headed by theatre director and producer Clive Brill.

He is artistic director of Frinton Summer Theatre where this new production of Abigail’s Party premiered in August.

Garnett said: “In many people’s minds, Abigail’s Party is the epitome of British suburbia in the 1970s, yet despite being very much ‘of its time’, the almost desperate aspirationalism and materialism are certainly themes we can identify with today.

“These are characters whom we still recognise, even 44 years after their conception, and it has been a joy to reincarnate them with such a tremendous cast. So, whether you’re a fan of olives or ‘a little cheesy-pineapple one’, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this acerbic tragi-comic drama.”

It will also feature set design by Beth Colley, lighting design by Pip Thurlow and costume design by Neil Gordon.

Abigail’s Party premiered at Hampstead Theatre in 1977, with Alison Steadman as Beverly. The subsequent TV version was voted one of the greatest British TV programmes by both industry professionals and the public.

Set in the suburbs of east London, it follows Beverly and estate agent husband Laurence, who invite round their neighbours Tony, Angela and Susan – mum of the titular Abigail.

About Mark Ludmon 318 Articles
Mark Ludmon has been a journalist for over 20 years, specialising in theatre, hospitality and drinks after starting in regional daily newspapers. He has an MA in early modern literature and history, focusing on Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, and a theatre studies MA from Royal Central School of Speech & Drama. He is a former panellist for the Olivier Awards. He tweets at @MarkLudmon.