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Abigail's Party (1977)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

In her suburban living room, hostess Beverly prepares for the arrival of her guests in the living room. Laurence, her estate agent husband, returns home late and makes some work calls. New neighbours Angela, a nurse, and Tony, her computer-operator husband, arrive. Beverly explains that Sue, another neighbour, will be joining them, as her daughter Abigail is having a party. Laurence leaves to finish some business and Tony goes to help him start his car. Beverly advises Angela regarding her lipstick application.

Sue arrives and more drinks flow. Tony returns. Music from Abigail's party becomes audible and the conversation turns to Abigail and the problems of parties. Beverly asks Sue about her divorce and her ex-husband. The conversation moves on to living together and children. Beverly keeps topping up the drinks. Angela talks about an ill child at work, to Tony's irritation. Angela reveals that Tony used to be a professional footballer.

Beverly goes outside. Tony offers round nibbles and the conversation lulls. Beverly returns with details of what she can see of the party. Tony offers to check, but Sue doesn't think it's necessary. Beverly tops up the drinks. Angela admires the furniture.

Laurence returns and reports that the party is getting lively. At Beverly's insistence, Laurence reluctantly agrees to check on the party later. Speculation continues about Abigail's party. Laurence suffers from indigestion after eating some olives, then demands Tony has a cigar. Beverly and Laurence argue about what music to play. Laurence concedes and puts Demis Roussos on.

As the evening progresses, Beverly and Laurence grow increasingly annoyed with each other; Laurence grows increasingly irritated by Tony; Tony becomes increasingly friendly with Beverly; Sue becomes more worried about Abigail. Angela remains oblivious to the growing tensions. Everyone gets progressively more drunk.

Beverly turns up the music and starts dancing. Laurence jumps up, switches it off and goes with Tony to check on Abigail's party.

Beverly apologises for Laurence and suggests they get drunk. Sue is sick in the downstairs toilet. The women complain how unsympathetic men can be to their aliments and discuss their husbands' respective faults. Angela reveals that Tony has a temper.

Laurence returns alone and goes to make a sandwich. Beverly goads him and he returns pointing a butter knife at her, before making a humiliating retreat to the kitchen. Tony returns with a wet shirt and reports there's nothing to worry about.

Beverly plays a Tom Jones record. Laurence turns it down and then snubs Angela when she asks him to sit down. Laurence unsuccessfully tries to assert himself by introducing more serious topics. Beverly asks Laurence to turn the music up. Laurence physically stops Beverly from getting near the record player. Sue seeks brief sanctuary in the lavatory.

Beverly and Tony slow dance together. Angela and Laurence dance together separately. Laurence dances with Sue and discusses holidays. Everyone sits down. The conversation returns to Tony's football career and Beverly inspects his legs.

Laurence asks Sue is she likes Art and shows her various pictures. Beverly says Laurence has banished the picture she likes upstairs and goes to get it, much to Laurence's distress. Everyone tries to leave. Laurence put on Beethoven's Ninth and asks everyone to sit down.

Laurence has a heart attack. Angela arranges him in the recovery position. Beverly arrives with the picture.  Tony phones for an ambulance. Beverly gets in the way, flicking cigarette ash over Laurence. Things become increasingly heated and chaotic. Beverly orders Tony to phone again for an ambulance and screams down the phone. Sue tells her to shut up. Beverley shouts back. The music from Abigail's party becomes audible. Sue phones Abigail, but someone else answers. Meanwhile, Angela attempts resuscitation. Laurence dies. Beverly starts crying on Tony. Angela suffers cramp in her foot and Tony goes to help her. Sue shouts to Abigail down the phone. Beverly sobs.