MIKE Leigh's Abigail's Party, set in the 'Seventies, has become a classic drama of its time, and this production echoes the era effectively in the well furnished set, effects and characterisations.

Despite the title, 15-year-old Abigail never appears, as she is hosting a party next door, from which her anxious mother Susan has taken refuge as a guest of neighbours Beverly and Laurence.

The blaring beat of Abigail's party - so near and yet so far - is mitigated by constant drinks and cigarettes plied insistently by the flamboyant Beverly (Melanie Gutteridge).

Susie Emmett is superb as Abigail's repressed, anxious mother, a divorcee increasingly ill at ease with the whole situation, especially when plied with too many drinks and pineapple cubes on sticks.

Liam Bergin is the stoical, monosyllabic Tony, struggling to avoid the obvious allure of Beverly, whose husband Laurence (Christopher Staines) is pre-occupied with work commitments as an estate agent. Laurence also likes to flaunt his intellectual interests, that he regrets are not shared by his wife Beverly. Amy Downham as Angie, Tony's irrespessible wife, gives an effervescent performance in which her consumption of alcohol does not dim her ability to cope with crisis.

The director is Douglas Rintoul; the excellent set and costume designer is Lee Newby and Ivan Stott manages the all-important sound. The play is a real blast from the past.

This joint production from Wiltshire Creative, Derby Theatre, Les Theatres de la Ville de Luxembourg, and Queen's Theatre , Hornchurch, is at Salisbury Playhouse until November 17.

Stella Taylor