by Rodney Ackland.
The Finborough Theatre. 118 Finborough Road, Kensington, London SW10 9WD to 22 December 2016.
Tues-Sat 7.30pm. Mat Sat & Sun 3pm.
Runs 2hr 45mins One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 847 1652.
Review: William Russell 24 November,
Another splendid revival at the Finborough
Written in 1936 and not staged in Central London since then this revival at the Finborough directed by Oscar Toeman makes a splendid addition to its record of rediscovering almost forgotten plays. Last staged in 1997 at Chichester starring Dorothy Tutin, After October falls into that canon of plays of the era which focussed on dysfunctional families, usually theatrical, who wreak havoc on all around. For this to work the family has to be glitteringly attractive, something Noel Coward understood with Hay Fever. The problem with Ackland’s play, a well made two acter very much of its time, is that his family do rather wear one down. Perhaps it is simply that plays like this demand to be seen behind footlights. In the claustrophobic surrounding of the Finborough one is effectively sitting in the living room of ageing musical star Rhoda Monkhams’ basement flat somewhere off Haverstock Hill, much too close for comfort. It is one thing viewing the angel fish and the piranhas through glass in the aquarium, quite another joining them in the tank.
That said the performances by good cast led by Sasha Waddell as the broke, but ever optimistic Rhoda, and Adam Buchanan as her impossible playwright son, Clive, carry the day. Rhoda has a lodger, Frances, who is in love with Clive but dating a tedious ex colonial bore, two daughters, one a neurotic would be artist working for a philistine boss with whom she is having an affair, and the other is a nightclub hostess in France who has come home with her hunky but thick French husband. Add a comic Cockney domestic – always a staple ingredient – nicely done by Josie Kidd – an anarchist poet – the left is always there too in these plays, usually to be mocked – who enters only by the window, and Rhoda’s daft old actress chum Marigold, beautifully played by Beverley Klein, and you have a potentially entertaining mix which, in spite of being set in a vanished world, remains potent enough.
Everything because Rhoda is broke and about to be thrown out of the flat, depends on the success of the play Clive has written which is due to open in the West End. But it flops, as one knows it will. So how do the family survive? Finding out is never less than interesting, the whole thing moves as fast as the nature of such plays allows, and there are some glorious lines to treasure. One such is the moment when Brian, the tedious colonial, played to the life by Stephen Rashbrook, tells Frances, after she has ditched him for Clive and told him how predictable he is, he had bought her a treat – joint membership of a Bridge Club. As for the impossible, infuriating, spoilt Clive – he is the one the women depend on for salvation – there is always going to be a tomorrow, although who with is anybody’s guess. That bearded window hopping poet is much to chummy for my liking.
Rhoda Monkhams: Sasha Waddell.
Clive Monkhams: Adam Buchanan.
Mrs Batley: Josie Kidd.
Frances Dent: Jasmine Blackborow.
Oliver Nashwick: Patrick Osborne.
Brian Guest: Stephen Rashbrook.
Marigold Ivens: Beverley Klein.
Joan Monkhams: Allegra Marland.
Alec Mant: Jonathan Oliver.
Lou St Rene: Peta Cornish.
Armand St Rene: Andrew Cazanave Pin.
Set Designer: Roseanna Vize.
Lighting Designer: Marec Joyce.
Costume Designer: Anna Lewis.
Sound Designer and Composer: Lucinda Mason-Brown.
Assistant Director: Holly Gatfield.