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Estate agent with 'Wibley Webb'. Laurence is Beverly's husband, and the pair frequently argue. He aspires to the finer things in life: leather-bound Shakespeare (which he thinks "can't be read"), prints of Van Gogh and Lowry paintings, and Beethoven, which he forces on his guests at unfortunate moments. He seems powerless to compete with Beverly's more flamboyant persona, and compensates by working too much, as his wife points out on several occasions. He considers a brisk handshake to be correct practice after a dance. While Laurence starts off behaving normally during the party, as he becomes increasingly hen-pecked by his wife, he begins to act in a more neurotic manner, to the point where he too becomes an annoyance to his guests. While Susan welcomes the increasing 'cosmopolitanism' of the area, Laurence does not.
Beverly Moss invites her new neighbours, Angela and Tony, who moved into the road just two weeks ago, over for drinks. She has also invited her neighbour Susan (Sue), divorced for three years, whose fifteen-year-old daughter Abigail is holding a party at home. Beverly's husband Laurence comes home late from work, just before the guests arrive. The gathering starts off in a stiff, insensitive, British middle class way as the virtual strangers tentatively gather, until Beverly and Laurence start sniping at each other. As Beverly serves more drinks and the alcohol takes effect, Beverly flirts more and more overtly with Tony, as Laurence sits impotently by. After a tirade about art, Laurence suffers a fatal heart attack. Within this simple framework, all of the obsessions, prejudices, fears and petty competitiveness of the protagonists are ruthlessly exposed.