"Strong revival of Rattigan's play"
by Matthew Partridge for remotegoat on 11/04/19

Sedos have revived “After the Dance”, written by Terrence Rattigan. Although lauded as one of his best plays, it was a commercial flop due to the start of World War Two only a few weeks after it was released in July 1939. David (Dom Ward) and Joan (Liz Flint) live life through the bottom of a cocktail glass, lost in an endless swirl of parties, while David plays at writing a history book. However, Helen (Hannah Brooks), the fiancé of David’s secretary Peter (James Cross) is determined to save David from what she sees as an inevitable death, setting in motion a train of events that will lead to tragedy.

On one level, the play is an attack on the ‘bright young things’ of the 1920s who were young enough to avoid World War One, and therefore fill their lives with alcohol, affairs and drug taking during the proceeding decade. However, it also satirises what Rattigan saw as selfishness masquerading as idealism, as represented by Helen’s decision to get David to abandon his wife. Indeed, Brooks makes it clear that, beneath the warmth and concern, Helen is as cold and calculating as any of the other characters. Chris De Pury is also excellent as John, the perceptive parasite.

However, the star of the show is Dom Ward who succeeds in capturing the audience’s sympathy, even though his character does some very unsympathetic things. He also imbues David’s fateful final decision with an air of nobility. While the play isn’t without its flaws, most notably the sudden gap between the two halves, it is definitely worth watching.

After the Dance is directed by Jon Foster, and runs at the Bridewell Theatre with the last performance on April 13th.

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