JONA Lewie once sang about how you will always find him in the kitchen at parties.

When you see the current touring production of Abigail's Party at the Playhouse you can see why some social get togethers can turn you to drink.

Written by Mike Leigh, the play about strained relationships is set entirely in a suburban Essex house two years before Margaret Thatcher came to power.

It was originally moulded by Mike's cast including Liverpool's very own Alison Steadman.

The actress skill-fully turned Beverly into a cult figure when it was aired nationally as part of the BBC's Play for Today back in 1977.

Now it's on a UK tour and, 40 years on, will more than appease those who loved the original.

The ever-versatile Jodie Prenger said it was on her bucket list to play the flirtatious, opinionated, heavy-drinking and smoking Beverly.

Jodie manages to put her own take on the ambivalent character who also displays traits of insecurity.

She and her husband, the over-worked Laurence, fight like cat and dog.

No love lost in their claustrophobic marriage.

Daniel Casey plays him with the right balance of soaring angst and resigned hen-peckery.

They invite their new neighbours over for drinks and cheese and pineapple nibbles.

Angela and Tony do not seem like a match made in heaven either.

Vicky Binns and Calum Callaghan as Ange and Tony respectively deserve a round of drinks for lovely layered interpretations of this odd couple: she is child-like in dress and mental state and he is vague and volatile.

Add to the line-up divorcee Sue who seems like someone who wouldn't say boo to a goose.

She can't hold her drink which is bad news when you are in the company of conversation bulldozer Bev.

Rose Keegan plays Sue, the mum of unseen Abigail whose party she hasn't been invited to, with an air of a guest who would rather be anywhere else.

It is all set in Janet Bird's superb set with a wonderful eye for details from the furniture and flares to the much-used designer drink tumblers.

Director Sarah Esdale creates the growing tension and the pathos sadness in a two-act play that moves along at just the right pace.

The vinyl music of Demi Roussos and Elvis with a bit of classical thrown in bring the audience wistfully back to the '70s.

This party is waiting for you to gate-crash it now.

While the nation's attitudes may have changed over four decades, characters like Bev still surface and that makes the play such a draw for modern day audiences.

Grin and Tonic.

Four stars

The production is the Playhouse until Saturday.

Tickets from the box office on 0151 709 4776.