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Form and Structure of 'Abigail's Party' by Mike Leigh.

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Form and Structure of 'Abigail's Party' Emily Huntley Mike Leigh's 'Abigail's Party' was primarily shown on television and wasn't initially meant for the stage, until it was realised how successful it was. The plot is based around a mirror of two party's, one involving 5 adults all living in the same estate but of very contrasting backgrounds and classes which Mike Leigh also depicts, and the other of the sixteen year old daughter of Sue, who's organised a typical teenage 'rave'. The essence of the play is that generally speaking the younger generations should be observed at parties but in Mike Leigh's example the irony is that the adult's seem just as drunk and obscene as what is imagined next door. This is where the comedy arises and is developed throughout the play as the adults keep a close eye on the teenagers but there is no one to observe the adults. Mike Leigh has also drawn the attention of the audience by focusing on class by contrasting the classes of the characters, Beverly and Lawrence who are aspiring for true middle class, a poor newly married couple and a middle class divorcee. ...read more.


As the play develops so does the amount of alcohol consumed and the tension between the two married couples. Especially from Beverly and Lawrence's points of view as they start verbally abusing each other in the presence of their guests, which I believe would not occur otherwise as Ang, Tony and Sue would realise their true characters. Therefore I could also state that the play is structured around class, parties and also alcohol. Everything in the play including props, lighting and sound effects is ultra realistic. The set includes real food and drink with a working record player and lamps, which provide the naturalistic lighting throughout the whole play, and the constant thumping from next door really makes the situation believable. To enhance the realism, Mike Leigh also wrote the play in 'real time', this means that the duration of the play is natural over the period of an evening, with no days or hours skipped. Another tool used by Mike Leigh to develop true realism is the use of colloquial dialect. ...read more.


But we also see the stress between Angela and Tony periodically. The complication is when the tension builds as more and more alcohol is consumed predominantly between Lawrence and Beverly. The climax is clearly Lawrence's heart attack, which is the outcome, of a stressful job, a nagging wife, being polite to unwelcome guests the consumption of alcohol and the constant 'thumping' of the party next door. This is when the focus and drive of the play changes completely from the future life these characters have built themselves to the present situation. Lastly the d�nouement. In 'Abigail's Party' there doesn't seem to be a definite resolution, the play is left on a cliff hanger as the audience is 'left in the dark' as to whether the conflicts have been resolved and if not the final outcome of the situation. 'Abigail's Party' is referred to as a comedy, but of various types, it contains a slight element of black comedy in the fact that Lawrence has a heart attack. But throughout the play, Leigh develops another form of comedy, not through one-liners, but due to the characters' dialogue and movement etc. ...read more.

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