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Before The Party

Before the Party by Rodney Ackland| from the short story by W. Somerset Maugham

The Second World War is over and despite the privations of ration book Britain - blasted by the Labour Government - it's time for the Skinner family to try to reclaim the preeminent social position they occupied before the "unpleasantness" began and armed with invitations to a top notch garden party, on a sunny summers' day in 1949, things are looking up... as long as sufficient petrol can be found to ensure the Skinners arrive in style....

For aspiring politician Aubrey and his domineering wife Blanche, everything must go smoothly - and the sudden return from Africa of their recently widowed daughter, Laura, promises to be the icing on the cake. Because even if their middle child Kathleen is somewhat bitter and twisted, and their youngest daughter Susan has a habit of overhearing precisely what she shouldn't, Laura's sense of duty and responsibility will readily compensate for her siblings' deficiencies.

Except that when Laura arrives, she's not only inappropriately dressed for a young woman in mourning, but more alarmingly, she's accompanied by a young man. When Laura reveals to her family a shocking secret about her husbands death, there's a danger that the Skinners social ambitions may be about to go up in smoke....

Based on a short story by Somerset Maugham, Before the Party is an acrebic, stylish and hilariously barbed portrait of the middle upper class adjusting to post-war life. If you enjoyed Pitlochry festival Theatre's productions of Coward's Present Laughter or Maugham's Home and Beauty, then this revival of Rodney Acklands's wickedly funny satire is for you.