SO what to make of Mike Leigh’s play 41 years – goodness was it really that long ago? – after it was first performed at the Hampstead Theatre in London.

Most will remember it from the TV version and Alison Steadman’s unforgettable turn as Beverly, the hostess with the mostest whose suburban drinks party for the neighbours turns into one of those aggressive, hateful, vindictive free-for-alls so beloved of writers of drama.

Towering over the proceedings is Jodie Prenger who, having tackled Willy Russell’s one woman play Shirley Valentine, takes on another theatrical female giant in director Sarah Esdaile’s touring revival at York Grand Opera House this week.

Prenger towers over the production as Beverly pours gin for the guests and verbal petrol on her shaky marriage to estate agent Laurence (Daniel Casey). Her guests are Angela (Vicky Binns) and failed footballer husband Tony (Callum Callaghan) who's marriage is heading towards the rocks, and Sue (Rose Keegan), a single parent who has left teenage daughter Abigail having a party of her own.

Prenger has Beverly’s vocal mannerisms down to a T and doesn’t ask any sympathy from the audience for the monster that is Beverly, selfish and insensitive and stuck in a marriage to a man she finds boring.

The rest of the cast, all victims of Beverly’s party spirit, resist any temptation to play it for laughs, content to let Leigh’s funny and sad script work its magic. The audience doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry - and ends up doing both.

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Raymond Crisp