The revelations flow almost as freely as the prosecco in Harvey Virdi's gentle comic drama, which made its London bow at Watermans in Brentford last night.

It's Sunita's 40th birthday but as her family prepare to celebrate it becomes clear she's in no mood to party.

Meanwhile, her mother Tejpal has an explosive surprise in store for the whole family, and we're not talking party poppers.

Over the course of the evening, all manner of secrets and long-held resentments get an airing as a family which has been in stagnation since the departure of its patriarch finally confronts the truth and prepares to move on.

Happy Birthday Sunita is loosely inspired by Abigail's Party and shares plenty in common with Mike Leigh's masterful comedy of manners, especially in the peeling away of its protagonists' pretensions.

Goldy Notay, Shabana Azmi, Clara Indrani and Ameet Chana in Happy Birthday Sunita
 

The comedy is much broader and the emotions are wrenched from the audience rather than gently prised.

But it's done with such affection it doesn't matter that it's about as subtle as the dayglo colours of Tejpal's new kitchen.

Rifco and Watford Palace Theatre have pulled off quite a coup in securing the services of Shabana Azmi, one of Bollywood's most garlanded actresses, for their new production.

She floats through proceedings, teasing out the comedy with the gentlest of touches, but there are strong performances too from Clara Indrani as the birthday girl still stuck in full-on foot-stomping puberty at the age of 40 and from Goldy Notay as the bolshie, image-obsessed Harleen whose stuttering efforts to master Punjabi had the audience in fits.

The plot is a tad predictable but packs a lot into the 80 minutes, which fly by. As family comedies go, this may not be your top of the range Champagne but it's got the feel-good factor of a very passable bottle of fizz.

* Happy Birthday Sunita is at Watermans until Saturday, October 18. For tickets, visit www.watermans.org.uk or call the box office on 020 8232 1010.