Monday, 16 February 2015

After Dinner by Andrew Bovell - STC at The Wharf

After Dinner was, I think, Andrew Bovell's first staged play. It is a farce about three women and two men who go to a pub bistro one Friday night in the 1970s. Two of the women - Dymphna, a prickly, competitive, plain woman who is hard to like and consequently lonely, and Paula, a kind, happy go lucky kind of person for whom the song "Girls just want to have fun" might have been written - go to the bistro every Friday night. They work in an office together and this Friday night they have decided to invite a colleague whose husband has died, in order to cheer her up. Of the two men, the one we first meet has recently been divorced.  He is hoping to spend an evening talking about his feelings with two other males. One of those two doesn't turn up; the other does, but his aim is not to talk.

Hilarity ensues. The timing, the acting, the script itself are all excellent. What is more, as really good comedy often can, the darkness beneath the laughter is cleverly exposed. Dymphna's loneliness is achingly painful and the absurdity of human activity - especially the attempts males and females make to get together - is highlighted, particularly in the scenes where the characters dance.

It was what Sandy Stone would have called 'a very nice night's entertainment'. Although I don't suppose Sandy would really have approved.

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