Amongst Friends

Posted on: 11 June 2009 by Gareth Hargreaves

Laurence Green reviews April De Angelis’ new comedy Amongst Friends at the Hampstead Theatre.

A darkly comic social satire poking fun at modern day fears and double standards is how you could describe April De Angelis’ disappointing new comedy Amongst Friends (Hampstead Theatre), directed by Anthony Clark.

Journalist Lara and her ex-MP and crime writer husband Richard are happy and successful.  Having moved to a fashionable ‘gated community’ they invite their old neighbours Caitlin and Joe to dinner.  When the security system fails an uninvited guest arrives and the dinner party takes quite a different turn.

This is a comedy with dark overtones which is considerable weakened by two factors.  First De Angelis has a great dislike for the characters she is writing about and they appear as merely ciphers for a general malaise in society. 

Secondly she touches on various contemporary issues such as drug abuse, crime, marital infidelity and MPs expenses without developing any in detail.  Nevertheless although I could not empathise with any of the characters, there is a smattering of funny lines and I was able to be mildly amused at the predicaments in which they found themselves.

Clark extracts some convincing performances from his cast Helen Baxendale as Lara, Aden Gillett as her husband, Emma Cunniffee and James Dreyfus as their old neighbours and dinner guests and Vicki Pepperdine as the guest from hell, all of whom try to put some flesh and blood on their rather underwritten characters.  But I can’t help feeling that Mike Leigh covered this sort of ground much more successfully in Abigail’s Party.

By Laurence Green

Where: Hampstead Theatre

When: Plays until 13th June

Box Office: 020 7722 9301

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