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Afternoon Off (1979)

Lee, a Chinese man, works as a waiter in a hotel in England, despite speaking very little English. Told that a girl called Iris might be interested in him, on his afternoon off work he buys a box of chocolates and sets off to find her.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Henry Man ...
Lee
...
Father
...
Mother
Pasquale Perrino ...
Maitre d'
...
Bernard
...
...
Attendant in Art Gallery
...
Man in Art Gallery
Harry Markham ...
Harry
Jackie Shinn ...
Jackie (as Jackie Shin)
...
Miss Beckinsale
Peter Butterworth ...
Mr Bywaters
...
Manageress of Shoe Shop
Angela Curran ...
Shirley
...
Customer in Shoe Shop
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Storyline

Lee, a Chinese man, works as a waiter in a hotel in England, despite speaking very little English. Told that a girl called Iris might be interested in him, on his afternoon off work he buys a box of chocolates and sets off to find her.

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3 February 1979 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Six Plays by Alan Bennett: Afternoon Off  »

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Quotes

Marjory: [finding Lee has bought chocolates for Iris] Chocolates? They won't do it for chocolates, you know. This isn't Berlin in 1945!
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User Reviews

'Looking for Ilis'
12 May 2010 | by See all my reviews

This Alan Bennett play centres on Lee, a Chinese worker in a restaurant, who wants to see a girl on his afternoon off. His colleagues Bernard (Philip Jackson) and Marjory (Harold Innocent) fix him up with Iris, who works in a shoe shop. So with chocolates in his hand, and thoughts of bed in his heart, off Lee goes into the wide world for adventure.

However Lee speaks very little English and this gets him into trouble wherever he goes. Although this play is well observed, this aspect being played for comedy does make it somewhat dated and it could even seem a little racist. That's a shame, but indicative of the times in which we live.

Good, but brief, supporting performances from the likes of Peter Butterworth, Anna Massey, Elizabeth Spriggs and Pete Postlethwaite lift this play, and a side vignette with Benjamin Whitrow as a moaning diner is quite funny.

Lee does eventually find his Iris, but perhaps not in the way he would have imagined! The ending does seem to run out of steam a little but given what's gone before, that's forgivable. This play is fairly watchable all things considered.


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