I've seen this three times now - as a DVD included among the Rattigan box set. I'd read a collection of Rattigan's plays - but this wasn't among them. As the director of the recent Olivier award winning National Theater production of "After the Dance" has stated, the failure of the play to run a long time in 1939 caused Rattigan to exclude it from his "Best Plays" collections. The play had received great acclaim by critics when it opened - and was doing fine business for two months - but then the War began - and the emotional ends of theater-going changed rather dramatically. The play closed soon afterward.
It's a superb play. I'm delighted that it's been revived to such a heralded response in London. It conveys a specific set of people - London based, upper class, only just too young for the First World War -who partied through the 1920s and the 1930s - ostensibly occupied with something, but not with true dedication. Eccentricity, a studied nonchalance, an affected boredom with the serious are the style of conversation - and gossip the substance. They now face a Second World War, a new generation - and themselves. There is considerable self-blame for their indulgence, wistfulness over age, self-questioning whether they can revivify, and wonder whether their characters are sufficiently supple or strong to start anew - as a new generation grinds alongside.
The play is quite realistic - and sad - and funny. The performances here are fine - you may, as I, wish to see it time and again. It's that fine a play.
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