Storm brewing over family life

Before the Party starring Tom Conti and Gwen Taylor
Before the Party starring Tom Conti and Gwen Taylor

Two of the best loved stars of stage and screen Tom Conti and Gwen Taylor return to the Devonshire Park Theatre this month in a new adaptation of a Somerset Maugham short story Before the Party by Rodney Ackland.

Tom Conti, star of Shirley Valentine and Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence, not only stars but also directs this new production from Bill Kenwright. Tom was recently in the acclaimed and extended run Twelve Angry Men at the Garrick and was voted Most Popular Actor in the West End.

His acting credits are diverse and range from The Dark Knight Rises to cameo performances in Friends and the lead in Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell.

Gwen Taylor joins Tom for the first time on stage; Gwen is one of the country’s best loved actresses with a vast career which includes TV classics; Barbara, Duty Free and A Bit of a Do where she starred opposite David Jason. Her numerous stage credits include the acclaimed Driving Miss Daisy which played in Eastbourne to packed houses.

This black comedy follows the Skinner family, which is trying to return to normal now the war is over. But the Government and their rationing is preventing Cook from acquiring the required delicious delicacies. Eldest daughter Laura has recently returned from Africa following the untimely death of her overbearing and ill-suited husband, and though she might be widowed she is not alone.

Amidst the never-ending whirl of hats and dresses and below stairs skirmishes, and ahead of an important garden party Laura reveals a shocking secret that threatens to ruin more than just one party on the climb to social success. This 1949 adaptation of a story written in 1926 is still a bitingly funny and wry look at upper-middle-class manners.

Before the Party at the Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne from Monday 19 to Saturday 24 October, with nightly performances at 7.45pm and Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm. Tickets are priced from £19 with concessions available, to book or for more information call the box office on 01323 412000 or online