Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

 Dancing through a forgotten gem

After the Dance

Sutton Arts Theatre


SUTTON Arts Theatre continues what has been a great season so far with Sir Terence Rattigan's After the Dance.

The play first opened in 1939, closing after just 60 performances and was seen as a failure. It was hidden and forgotten until a 1992 airing on BBC2, it then saw a brief reviaval in 2002 and then was revived again by the National Theatre two years ago where it was finally recognised as a lost masterpiece.

The story takes place in the late 30s, in the Mayfair apartment of Joan (Anne Deakin) and David Scott-Fowler (Nigel Higgs), an apartment with a splendid balcony overlooking the courtyard. The set works well, with no shifting of scenery or props - with the exception of the drinks bottles and glasses which are pivotal to the story.

Joan and David were the bright young things of the 20s, married for amusement and are trapped in a time warp, living a Peter Pan lifestyle of parties and good times.  

David's ward and secretary Peter (Richard Ham) is planning to marry a Peace Treaty baby, the romantic and very young Helen Banner (Suzy Donnelly).  However, Helen is in love with David and not only that, she wants to stop him from drinking and take him away from his decadent lifestyle.


Family friend, companion, jester and lush John Reid was played with conviction and humour by Allan Lane.  However, my heart sank as he verbally tripped over his exit lines.  A dreadful shame after such a good performance!

There was a charismatic and amusing performance by Christina Peak as Joan's long-time friend and there were fine performances from Richard Ham, Richard Irons, Dan Payne, Lee Davies and Marion Pritchett.

Deakin comes into her own with her solo performance as Joan who finds that Peter is to divorce her to be with Helen. I truly felt her grief and her subsequent struggle to keep control of her emotions.  How terrible that her husband should find out that she had actually loved him through all the years.

In the penultimate scene, the Scott-Fowlers throw a huge party and Joan beseeches her husband to play her favourite oldie, Jolson's Avalon.  As he plays, the party revelers gather around the piano singing at what becomes her requiem. Again very moving performances by Deakin and Lane.  

There are some amusing moments, which at times seemed to vanish over the heads of some of the audience.  The costumes are authentic and the ladies party frocks are extravagantly lavish - although the gents wigs are a little dodgy. Overall: a very entertaining show.  To 18-02-12.

Lynda Ford 

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