Saturday, July 3, 2010

After The Dance review - London National Theatre (Lyttelton Theatre), a play ahead of its time

After the Dance couldn't be one of the plays Terence Rattigan was proud of. When it first played in St. James Theatre in 1939, the audience response was lukewarm at best. Nothing wrong with the play really, it was rather the unfortunate time it debuted - it reminded Londoners too much of the liberties that Hitler was taking in Europe and how Britain was turning a blind eye to that.


David Scott-Fowler (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) and his wife Joan (Nancy Carroll) are at the prime of their game. Living in the 1920s London, which is fresh from the triumph over the Central Powers in the Great War, David and Joan are no strangers to frequent Mayfair parties wining and dining their way.

John Reid (Adrian Scarborough) is the ever present 'guest' in the house. The scene opens with John laying across a sofa after a hangover from the previous night's drinking proclaiming to David's cousin, Peter Scott-Fowler (John Heffernan) that he has been able to stay in David's place for the past couple of years being the 'court jester'. True to his word, John came in throughout the play with straight-faced wisecracks, appreciated not only by his hosts but the entire audience as well.

Things aren't the way they look and the good times come to an end when David succumbed to Peter's fiancee Helen Banner's (Faye Castelow) adoration and advances. "The difference between David and me is that he wants to change but doesn't have the character, and I have the character but just comfortable where I am" John quipped. And how true that is. David's seemingly strong front hides a a weak character that ultimately lead to tragedy.

After The Dance, a beautifully written play was ahead of its times. Directed by Thea Sharrock, the three hour play (with three acts and two intervals) has its fair share of memorable scenes that are subtle yet played out with great impact. Watch out for the scene with David nursing a lonely drink transforming into another scene where Scott-Fowlers play host to a party. 

After The Dance is on a limited run and is playing in London National Theatre till August 2010. Book your tickets now. Oh, National Theatre offers free entry passes to 15-25 yr olds.

After The Dance
National Theatre (Lyttelton Theatre)
South Bank
London SE1 9PX
Tel: 020 7452 3000

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