One of the major advantages of being a student production is that having a large cast becomes an option without costing the world. Playwright Lilith Allen takes full advantage of this by producing a rare thing, a new piece of writing for an ensemble cast. Nine old university friends, and two outsiders gather at David (Fraser Nickolls) and Evie’s (Fi Montanari) house to celebrate Abigail’s 3rd Birthday Party. As guests trickle in you get the sense that there are some old ghosts here which are being carefully not talked about as everyone tries to make the day nice, for Abigail.
Each friend is an entirely unique character with their own hopes, foibles and old scores to settle, not one is an afterthought or there to make up the numbers. The sub-plot between Ingrid (Lia Palmer) and her odious ex-boyfriend Jack (Ryan Farquharson) reaches a surprising and morally questionable conclusion while other minor side plots resolve neatly, if a little predictably. The tone is light and playful throughout with the children in the back garden causing constant chaos used as a good device to rush characters on and off stage in a constant revolving door of action.
As the play comes to its conclusion Thomas (Sam Gower), who has been moping sound the party like a depressing black cloud, finally confronts Evie and forces her to spill the beans about the ‘other Abigail’. Gower’s furious and uncompromising glare is brilliantly intimidating. The hurt he is carrying feels like a physical weight on his shoulders that he uses to bring everyone down with him. It is this final confrontation that exorcises the tension of the day and opens the door for healing among the friends.
This is a play for anyone in their mid 20s, that strange time of life when half your friends are having kids while the other half live at home and drink like they’re still students. The themes of friendship and growing-up will be familiar and reassuring to friendships that have changed in recent years. Napier University Drama Society wants you to know that no matter how bad it is, honesty and time will see your friendships through.