Charting the clash of generations in a decadent Mayfair household and featuring a cast more familiar to the Oxford stage, this revival of Rattigan’s 1939 play ‘After The Dance’ promises to be a polished and professional show.
Sick of the careless hedonism of his elders, but dependent on his cousin’s charity, Peter (Jeremy Neumark-Jones) seeks enough money to buy a place of his own and marry his fiancée Helen (Jessica Norman). However, it soon becomes clear that Peter’s bride-to-be is besotted with his cousin David (an excellently cast Jordan Waller), a marries aspiring historian whose alcoholism is putting his life in danger. The veneer of bourgeois civility and carelessness is maintained throughout, disguising very real emotions of the characters which we see build and build under the tension until they reach breaking point.
The play constantly evokes a cloying atmosphere of nostalgia and irritation at the pretensions of the elder generation. Barney White and Phoebe Hames provide the comic relief with their portrayals of the clownish drunkards John and Julia – White is particularly hilarious. The frustration of the younger generation is palpable from the outset, but Flora Zackon’s Joan keeps her love for her husband laudably well-hidden until circumstances begin to get the better of her. Zackon stands out among the cast – she is nuanced and tragic at the same time, and her performance is nothing short of captivating. Her love rival, portrayed by Norman, is similarly well cast, and does a solid job of Helen.
‘After The Dance’ builds gradually and requires concentration. It will not appeal to everyone – the play itself is a bit of a slow burner – but it is a genuinely high-quality performance, and will no doubt improve as rehearsal progresses, and as it stands, it’s already decent student fare.
Four stars ****