Mention the words Abigail’s Party in conversation and within seconds someone will have quoted Demis Roussos, ice and lemon or Beaujolais.

Mike Leigh’s seminal comedy, first staged more than 40 years ago, is a modern classic ingrained in the collective British psyche.

As a new production of the much-loved play tours the UK - stopping off at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre from March 18 to 23 - we talk to director Sarah Esdaile and the cast – Jodie Prenger, Vicky Binns, Calum Callaghan, Daniel Casey and Rose Keegan – about what makes the piece so special and why it should be see on the stage.

How would you describe Abigail’s Party?

Calum: Essentially, it’s about three sets of neighbours coming together for what should be a nice, jolly evening. But it’s the total opposite of that because they’ve all got so much going on individually that they’re not dealing with privately.

Jodie: It’s uncomfortable and deliciously dark. It’s full of that thing where you don’t really want to watch, but you can’t look away.

Rose: It’s about all the primary things that we’re worried about and will always be worried about until the end of time – aspiration and hunger and thirst and confinement and hope. It’s full of these wonderful sayings and it’s very accessible.

It was first performed more than 40 years ago. What makes it so popular all these years later?

Sarah: It’s very good. I’m struck at least five to 10 times a day by that! It takes place, socially and politically, at a really interesting turning point in the history of this country. It’s less than a year before Thatcher came into power and there was rise in people’s obsession with consumerism, belongings and position.

Vicky: It’s amazing! You type “Things that happened in 1977” into Google and one of the results is “Abigail’s Party premiered”, along with the massive world events that happened at that time. It hit right at the heart of that moment, but it’s still so identifiable today. It’s like being a fly on the wall at a party that you wouldn’t want to be at. You get to be there without having to dance awkwardly or make chit chat.

In the age of on demand entertainment, what’s special about a trip to see Abigail’s Party at the theatre?

Calum: It’s about sharing, being in a public space and experiencing something with other people. It’s happening right in front of you.

It’s the uniqueness of the experience that you and however many people you’re sitting with at that time get to have. It’s the same being on stage.

That’s why, no matter what level lots of actors reach, they want to come back to the stage. You can’t get that same shared experience of adrenalin and joy that comes from live entertainment anywhere else.

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