I'm a bit of sucker for watching posh people of yesteryear behaving 'pratishly' as @sjc_home4tea so accurately described them. But Terence Rattigan's 'forgotten' play doesn't just play for laughs it also has emotional depth.
Set between the wars, David Scott-Fowler (Benedict Cumberbatch) is of the class that can afford not to work and spends his days drinking and entertaining. He and his group of shallow and superficial 'friends' seem to live for a hedonistic party about which they can gossip endlessly.
David is half-heartedly writing a book assisted by his cousin Peter (John Heffernan). Peter's girlfriend Helen (Faye Castelow) however, has fallen in love with David, and he with her, and she is determined to 'save' him from the life he living, fearing that he may already have cirrhosis of the liver.
"Why do you all talk of nothing but the old days and the old parties and the things you all used to do and say?"
Rattigan's play is an amusing and moving delight in the hands of director Thea Sharrock and her extremely able cast. Notable nods go to the brilliantly funny Adrian Scarborough as eternal house guest and sponger John Reid and Nancy Carroll as jilted wife Joan Scott-Fowler who, in one scene, gave one of the snottiest, most heart-wrenching performances I've seen since Juliet Stevenson in the film Truly Madly Deeply.
And they are bettered only by Cumberbatch as the emotionally repressed David, fighting an inner battle to turn away from the life and person that he is, that he has slowly come to deplore. The journey from confident, aloof socialite into a lonely, heart broken man resigned to his own failings is convincing and extremely moving.
After the Dance is only on until the Aug 11, grab one of the few tickets left.
Rev Stan rating 4.5/5
The critics seems to have loved it too:
Michael Billington in The Guardian gave it four stars commenting: "Thea Sharrock's superb production, which captures not only Rattigan's ability to blend the psychological and the social, but also his extraordinary breadth of human sympathy."
The West End Whingers gave it four glass of red out of five commenting: "Even the two intervals and three hour running time didn’t stop the Whingers having a thoroughly enjoyable evening."
Charles Spencer in The Telegraph went further giving it five stars: "After the Dance is a study of the inequality of love, and the British habit of repressing emotion. But its canvas is much broader, combining acute analysis of personal relationships with a broader account of Britain on the brink of war."
There is also this nice video interview with Thea Sharrock from The Telegraph:
Image of Benedict Cumberbatch as David and Nancy Carroll as Joan by Johan Person
Another easy peasy one: Pandora Colins who plays Julia Browne was also in the marvellous ...some trace of her in which Mr Whishaw starred as Prince Mishkin. And if that wasn't enough Adrian Johnston who gets the music credit for After the Dance, also lists Brideshead Revisted on his CV