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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
Her hard-working realtor husband Laurence, though a dutiful host, is indifferent to Beverly's idea of a party and more and more to Beverly herself. He likes classical music, she likes pop (personified by Jose Feliciano); he likes Van Gogh, she likes what he calls pop porn art; he likes Dickens, even the word book never passes her lips.
The new neighbors Beverly has invited for drinks are Tony, a former football player and computer operator, and his wife Angela, a nurse. Sue is a stay-at-home Mom except when Abigail is having a party.
Beverly's idea of fun is fueled by drink and as the party deteriorates into predictable sexy dancing, vomiting by Sue, and increasingly belligerant tension between Beverly and Laurence, the play, whose trivial dialogue is as tightly paced as a military parade, pitches to an unexpected climax. Drop dead! Beverly screams at Laurence. Famous last words. Mike Leigh is now best known for his films (Secrets and Lies, Vera Drake). This was the first of his plays focusing on the desperately funny tragedies of working class life. Director Julian Holloway has an impeccable flair for comedy and sly inventive touches in both action and vocal expression that wring every ounce of humor from Leigh's everyday language.
The excellent cast is headed by Nikki Glick who makes Beverly a sexy bourgeois dominatrix; Darren Richardson, who manages to make the boring Laurence lovable; Phoebe James, whose leggy bop dancing illuminates Angela; Jonathan La Paglia, pitch perfect as Tony the hunk; and the remarkable Cerris Morgan-Moyer, who can make a full characterization out of Susan's one word "Yes. quot; Charles Erven designed the carefully upscale set.
Editor's Note: This is our 3rd encounter with Leigh's play. To read our London critic's take in 2002 go here. For our review of the New Group's production in 2005 go here.