What might have been provocative in 1979, when Mike Leigh’s play first appeared, now feels dated. Beverly (Nikki Glick) — a happily childless, unhappily married woman at the start of her descent into middle age — and Laurence (Darren Richardson) — her unremarkable estate agent husband with a love for classical music and sandwiches — have the neighbors over for drinks. As gin and tonics go down, tensions come up. Playwright Leigh derived much of his work from improvisation, which makes for some pleasantly unexpected turns and subconscious outbursts. However, in revival, it really does reveal itself as a product of its time. Director Julian Holloway shapes this production well for the most part, but a conspicuously contemporary Schweppes bottle and pointless stage business for actors who have to engage themselves while others speak certainly distract from the main action. The cast is primarily strong, with a stellar performance from Phoebe James as a gregarious young party guest. And Charles Erven’s set delights in subtleties of the ’70s, though Graham Oakes’ sound design could actually use some touches of nuance.

Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 24, 7 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Fri., Oct. 24, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 1, 8 p.m. Starts: Aug. 23. Continues through Nov. 2, 2008

LA Weekly