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Funny and disturbing black comedy that makes creative use of cranberries

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Dark humour meets whodunnit in this 80 minute sparkler of a play by David Gieselmann.

A young(ish) urban couple, Sarah and Ralf, invite Sarah’s prissy colleague, Edith and her fiery-tempered buffoon of a husband, Bastian, round for dinner on a Saturday night.

Social awkwardness ensues: the hosts knock back the booze whilst their guests are confirmed teetotallers. Sarah, who is much more interested in tarting herself up than cooking, orders pizzas. Classy.

But then Abigail’s Party morphs into Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope when Sarah and Ralph joke they’ve done a murder because they were a bit bored actually.

A large trunk in the centre of the room becomes the focus for intense scrutiny: accusations fly and the pizza delivery boy gets a whole lot more than he bargained for. As did I because I was sitting at the front – you have been warned.

Still, it is nice to see such a creative use of cranberries and their juice. And to witness some excellent fight scenes – presumably thanks to Lewis Penfold who has the fantastic credit of “stage combat” in the programme.

The cast were convincing but overacted on occasion – less is more given the crazy plot twists and character U-turns in the second half, and the size of the theatre.

Laura Freeman is particularly good as Edith who goes from buttoned-up submissive to foul-mouthed adulteress as soon as she sheds her cardigan.

The combination of humour and horror – not an easy one to get right – is handled with aplomb by director, Rachel Valentine Smith.

And if this is not enough to persuade you to see it – there is also some nudity. A disturbing and funny black comedy.

* Mr Kolpert is at the King’s Head Theatre in Upper Street, N1, until August 5.

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