Stu and I went to see a revival of Mike Leigh's 1979 play Ecstasy at the Hampstead Theatre. The play, using beautifully observed social realism, covers the life of four blue-collar friends living in a ratty area in London near Kilburn High Street and the drunken frustration in their lives, namely that of the lead character Jean. Jean is a suicidal garage attendant who sleeps with unsuitable men, like Roy, drinks heavily and has abortions. Her friend from Birmingham, Dawn, who has had three children, brings back her husband Mick, an Irish labourer, and his quiet friend, Len, to Jean's bleak Kilburn bedsitter, - 'their second act ensemble trumpets the dark night of the soul, in what is at once one of the best and gloomiest party scenes in contemporary drama.'
Ostensibly a portrait of despairing solitude but, set in the first few months of the first Thatcher government, it also rings a warning bell of the hellish impact of urban poverty.