21 Mar 2013 - 11 May 2013

Before The Party

By Rodney Ackland based on a short story by W. Somerset Maugham

Directed By Matthew Dunster

Tickets £8 - £32

production information

“But darling what will people think if the sister’s wearing mourning and the widow’s dressed in pink?”

The war is over and the Skinner family are trying to return to normal. If only the blasted Government weren’t such a nuisance about the rations and Cook could get some more of those delicious delicacies. With daughter Laura returned from Africa, widowed but not alone, they prepare for the latest social gathering.

Amidst the never-ending whirl of hats and dresses and below stairs skirmishes, Laura reveals a shocking secret that threatens to ruin more than one party on the climb to social success.

Writer Rodney Ackland is best known for his play Absolute Hell, performed at the National Theatre in 1996 starring Judi Dench. Before the Party is based on a short story by Somerset Maugham. Ackland’s hilarious adaptation is a sizzling portrayal of the upper middle classes adjusting to post-war life; directed in a revival by Matthew Dunster, whose directorial credits include the highly-acclaimed Mogadishu (Lyric Hammersmith) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre).

Dates & Tickets

Previews Thu 21 - Wed 27 March
Press Night Thu 28 March (7pm)

Evening performances 7.30pm
Wednesday matinees 2.30pm on 10 April & 1 May
Saturday matinees 2.30pm from 30 March

EASTER AND BANK HOLIDAY PERFORMANCES
There will be no performances on Good Friday (29 March) or Easter Monday (1 April).
There will be an evening performance on Monday 6 May.

SPECIAL EVENTS
Happy Mondays
25 March
Talkback Mon 29 April (post performance)
Supporters' Evening Tue 23 April


ASSISTED PERFORMANCES

Caption Performance Captioned Thu 2 May, 7.30pm
Audio-described Sat 27 April, 2.30pm (Touch Tour at 12.45pm)

Polly Dartford

Susan Skinner

Theatre includes: Christmas Carol; Shadowmaster (King’s Head Theatre); Oedipus Rex (National Theatre); The Girl, The Mother and the Rubbish (Unicorn Theatre).

Television includes: Primeval; Doctors; Casualty.

Film includes: Effie.

Polly is a pupil at King Alfred School in London and has been an active member of the Young Actors Theatre since 2007

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 "...a forgotten gem ... Katherine Parkinson is enthralling ... Michelle Terry is priceless.

Independent on Sunday

Reviews

 "...yelps of scandalised and delightedly incredulous laughter throughout Matthew Dunster's miraculously well-acted revival of this forgotten 1949 gem by Rodney Ackland ... Sheer, spiky bliss."

The Independent

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Reviews

 "A perfect example of Ackland's singular craftsmanship ... director Matthew Dunster makes the play sing with constant movement and precise comic timing. He is aided by a tremendous cast."

Daily Express

Reviews

"Given a rare, masterful revival by Matthew Dunster at the Almeida, Rodney Ackland’s bitingly funny 1949 adaptation of a 1926 short-story by Somerset Maugham fleshes out its wry source in a theatrically entertaining way and ferrets out its nutritious dramatic meat too."

The Telegraph

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Reviews

"One by one the absurd, snobbish, panicking family members with their dreadful values become the victims of real emotion ... Never a dull moment or a misjudged move. Bliss."

The Times

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Reviews

"A high-flying cast hits all the right notes; Michelle Terry, as hatchet-faced unmarried sister Kathleen, brings the house down with her grimly crisp delivery... It’s wonderful to see her and Parkinson, two of our very finest younger actresses, square up to each other."

Evening Standard

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Reviews

"The tragedy behind this dark comedy is that, obsessed with respectability and form, the Skinners are woefully ill-equipped to handle the painful truh ... Katherine Parkinson’s beautifully controlled performance, is masterful."

Financial Times

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Reviews

"The iniquities carried out in the name of ‘social standing’ are propped up for target practice in Rodney Ackland’s deadly 1949 play Before The Party ... gleefully vicious skewering of upper-middle-class manners"

Metro

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Reviews

Additional information

The running time is approximately 2 hours and 25 minutes including a 15 minute interval.

Cast & Creatives

Polly Dartford
Anna Devlin
Stella Gonet
Emily Lane
Katherine Parkinson
Alex Price
Michelle Terry
Michael Thomas
June Watson

Writer Rodney Ackland
Director Matthew Dunster
Design Anna Fleischle
Lighting Philip Gladwell
Sound Ian Dickinson
Video Designer Mark Thomas
Casting Julia Horan CDG
Dialect Majella Hurley
Assistant Director Bethan Dear

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