I just watched Mike Leigh's Abigail's Party from Netflix and holy cow did I love it. It's hard to describe, really, because "TV movie" doesn't really do the job. It was a hit play that they filmed for BBC, but they filmed it in a studio with no audience. It's kind of like watching a play by yourself? Or like watching the saddest sitcom? Truth be told, the whole thing reminded me of my all-time favorite sitcom, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, which was a 70's sitcom NOT filmed before a live audience, making it kind of awkward and bizarre. I guess you'd call it a teleplay?
The set alone is enough reason to love watching this. The beautiful floral wallpaper and delicious shades of brown, mustard, and split pea are all divine, obviously. As is all the smoking and alcoholism. But this is also a savagely funny dark comedy. The plot, from Wikipedia:
Beverly Moss invites her new neighbours, Angela and Tony, over for drinks. She has also asked her divorced neighbour Susan, whose fifteen-year-old daughter Abigail is holding a party back in their house. Beverly's husband Laurence comes home late from work, just before the guests arrive. The gathering starts off in a stiff, insensitive, British-middle-class way as the virtual strangers tentatively gather, until Beverly and Laurence start sniping at each other. As Beverly serves more drinks and the alcohol takes effect, Beverly flirts more and more overtly with Tony, as Laurence sits impotently by. After a tirade about art, Laurence suffers a fatal heart attack. Within this simple framework, all of the obsessions, prejudices, fears and petty competitiveness of the protagonists are ruthlessly exposed.
I watched some really great plays on PBS when I was a kid. I vividly remember seeing Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd, and The House of Blue Leaves. I really cherish those memories. It really got me thinking about how much I would love to see some plays from the underground get this treatment, not just Broadway shows.
I would love to combine two of my biggest passions: indie theater and late night cable.
What if you filmed Derek Ahonen's The Pied Pipers of the Lower East Side on a studio set? How wonderful would that be? I would love to sit up late with popcorn and watch Soho Rep's production of Blasted. And, specifically to toot my own horn, MilkMilkLemonade would make killer late night cable fare.