"Abigail's Party" - Mike Leigh
Page 9 - Pay special attention to the stage directions at the top
of the page. They give an indication of the set required and the atmosphere that prevails.
Analyse how the atmosphere is achieved here, e.g. the music, the cigarette, the gin and tonic, the little snacks, Beverly's dancing, and her general movements.
Page 10 - Here we see how Laurence is totally involved in his work. "I didn't have time". The long phone call gives us a chance to view Beverly's reaction to his involvement.
Page 11 - Angela and Tony arrive.
Page 12 - Here we see the first indication of Beverly's attitude to other men. She seems impressed that Tony is larger than her husband in height. Drinks are served.
Page 13 - We learn that Sue from number 9 is also going to join them. Beverly and Angela seem to hit it off.
Page 14 - We learn that Tony and Angela have given up smoking, and that Laurence is totally oppressed by Beverly, e.g. she refuses to put out any olives. Laurence begins to show his annoyance.
Page 16 - We are made aware that Tony's job is nothing very special - shift work as a computer operator. Angela answers for him mostly.
Page 17 - Laurence runs Beverly down, e.g. she's not organised, she doesn't understand cars, she's not allowed to have a say in the choice of a car, etc.
Page 18 - Beverly "butters up" Tony. Tony and Laurence go out to push the car.
Page 19 - Beverly gives Angela tips on the use of lipstick. Sue arrives.
Page 20 - Beverly puts the bottle of wine that Sue brings in the fridge. It is red wine, so she shouldn't do this, thus showing her ignorance. Sue asks for sherry, indicating that she is perhaps of a better class than the others.
Page 21 - Sue is persuaded by dominant Beverly to drink gin and tonic, on an empty stomach. Sue's daughter Abigail, a teenager, is having a party, so Sue has left her to it.
Page 22 - Music from the party begins. We learn that Abigail is rather wild, e.g. punk, safety pins, motor bike, etc. The number of people at the party begins to give cause for concern.
Page 23 - Beverly manages to get Sue very worried about the party, e.g. no respect for other people's property, and stealing things.
Page 24 - Beverly continues worrying Sue with talk of strong alcohol and older boys.
Page 25 - Angela now embarrasses Sue by asking questions about her husband and their divorce. Angela is very tactless.
Page 26 - Beverly discusses how her mother treats her father, e.g. making him sleep in the box-room on his own. Possibly Beverly would do this sort of thing to Laurence in time.
Page 27 - Further talk on marriage etc.
Page 28 - Again marriage and relationships are the main topics of conversation.
Page 29 - Talk of children and the future.
Page 30 - Further talk on having children.
Page 31 - We learn that Tony used to be a footballer. Beverly is very impressed. Laurence returns after his business meeting. Remembers he's forgotten the cans, and goes straight back out with Beverly shouting after him.
Page 32 - Beverly comes back in and further worries Sue with news of the goings on in her garden. Beverly forces the drinks. Another example of Beverly's ignorance is that she thinks silver plate is real silver.
Page 33 - Tony and Angela view the kitchen. Take care here. Is the kitchen part of the whole set, with no separating walls? Or is it off-stage? Remember the beaded curtain in the University theatre.
Page 34 - Beverly instructs Laurence to chill the cans. She also forces Sue to have a cigarette. She tries to make Tony have a light ale.
Page 35 - Beverly forces Laurence to check on the party. Laurence tries to put Sue's mind at rest.
Page 36 - Sue likes olives. Beverly is sarcastic about them, and makes a vulgar statement about the little red bit that sticks out.
Page 37 - We learn about Angela's and Tony's differences with regards to food, e.g. pilchard curry. The first hint appears here when Angela talks about hard working businessmen having heart attacks.
Page 38 - They all start smoking cigars or cigarettes, pressurised by Beverly. Antagonism begins between Laurence and Beverly over the choice of music to be played.
Page 39 - Beverly gets everyone to side with her against Laurence. Drinks continue to be served.
Page 40 - General small talk about holidays, drinks, and beards.
Page 41 - Laurence tries to be intellectual, talking about people with talent. Good quotation here from Laurence - "Life is a fight - people always seem to be against you." Angela tells a silly story of playing a piano at the age of eight.
Page 42 - Beverly begins to dance sexily in front of everyone. This embarrasses Laurence who turns off the music and forces Tony to check on the party with him.
Page 43 - With the men out of the way, the girls decide to take advantage of their absence. Sue announces she's going to be sick. She's taken to the toilet by Angela.
Page 45 - Angela and Beverly discuss Sue's sickness and we see that Beverly is not very domesticated, i.e. little frozen pizza for her meal.
Page 46 - Beverly tries to "mother" Sue, but she resists it. Beverly takes out some strong perfume and forces it on Sue.
Page 47 - Some home truths about Angela's and Beverly's relationships with their respective husbands.
Page 48 - Continued talk about relationships with husbands. Laurence returns from the party. He tries to play everything down by saying everything is alright.
Page 49 - Rape and sex come into the conversation. Laurence is very embarrassed and strongly advises Beverly to be quiet.
Page 50 - First indication here of how Laurence would like to physically attack Beverly, i.e. the sandwich knife. Tony returns.
Page 51 - No-one is quite sure what Tony has been doing. He is flushed, dishevelled, and has a wet shirt.
Page 52 - Beverly puts on Elvis Presley loudly and goes out to the toilet.
Page 53 - Laurence turns down the volume and tries to begin a conversation about the tone of the neighbourhood going down. Does he pretend to be of a better class than he is?
Page 54 - Laurence continues to try and appear intellectual by talking of Dickens.
Page 55 - Laurence continues by talking of Shakespeare, but spoils everything by saying - "It's not something you can actually read."
Page 56 - Read the stage directions at the top of this page carefully. You will see that this dialogue here on page 56 is spoken at the same time as the dialogue at the bottom of page 55, i.e. there are two conversations going on at the same time. There is another indication of violence here between Laurence and Beverly when they fight over the volume knob and Laurence viciously grabs her arm. Angela is oblivious to the tense atmosphere, but Sue escapes to the toilet.
Page 57 - Beverly instigates the dancing. The men move the settee. Laurence appears as a whimp, and Beverly ridicules him.
Page 58 - Smoochy music begins. Tony and Beverly dance together very physically. Beverly forces Angela and Tony to dance.
Page 59 - Angela has no concept of rhythm or physical expression and ridiculously bops to the smoochy music. Beverly suggests that Laurence then dances with Sue.
Page 60 - Beverly forces the issue and Sue and Laurence dance. Beverly and Tony become even more intimate in their dancing than before, even to the point of "snogging.". After the dance finishes, Beverly sits very close to Tony.
Page 61 - Beverly reveals Tony's footballer's legs and feels his muscles. Laurence changes the subject to art.
Page 62 - Laurence again tries to appear intellectual, but Beverly insists that he keep quiet. They have an argument about ignorance and taste.
Page 63 - Laurence escapes to the kitchen. Beverly tells the others about a picture she has in the bedroom. Tony senses the atmosphere and tries to get Angela to leave. Laurence re-enters and tells Beverly not to get the picture.
Page 64 - Beverly just carries on shouting "Drop dead". Tony shouts loudly at Angela. She is very frightened. From this point on the dramatic climax comes into play. See notes on question about dramatic climax. This is a possible question area - know it well. The loud stirring music begins and Laurence suffers the heart attack. Angela springs into action. Beverly re-appears with the pornographic picture. She doesn't realise what has happened.
Page 65 - Panic sets in. They all try to do something to help, but Beverly gets in the way and annoys everyone.
Page 66 - Beverly is still drinking and smoking. She becomes morbid and maudling. They start shouting at each other.
Page 67 - Beverly starts to blame herself. They all shout at Beverly and tell her to shut up when she becomes aggressive.
Page 68 - During the course of the conversation, Laurence loses his fight for life. Angela tries to resuscitate him, to no avail.
Page 69 - Angela goes into a spasm of cramp, rolling around the floor. Tony helps her through it and she lies still. Tony kneels exhausted. Beverly sobs. Sue, on the phone, screeches to Abigail, and the rock music continues as Laurence lies dead.
A few notes - usually examiners ask questions on the beginning or the end of a scene or act. So there are four places in this play where you might expect to be questioned on, i.e. the beginning or end of Act 1, or the beginning or end of Act 2. This is only a possibility - do not take it for granted. Make sure you know these four sections especially well; in any case you should know the whole play really well. Study notes on how to answer questions for help in working on this play. Also plan well in advance your set design, bearing in mind you are designing for a live theatre stage. See plans etc.
For other notes which may be of use to you, see my Home Page.