Set in the fag-end of the 1930s, Terence Rattigan's second
play is a judgemental look at the not-so-bright, not-so-young things still
trying to party as the next generation is busy stacking up the chairs.
Originally the play opened in 1939, and only ran for a few weeks before
the war changed everyone's concerns. Since then it has had something of
the reputation of a lost masterpiece, but Rattigan himself described the
play as "turgid" and certainly it is rather wordy and earnest,
and occasionally overflows with the bitterness of recently lost innocence.
Still, Oxford Stage Company's show is fine matinée fare, full of
melodrama and cliché (though none the worse for that), and a great
opportunity to see TV comedy regulars giving some outrageously fine performances.
We open with a young woman falling for her boyfriend's much older, married
guardian, deciding she knows what is best for him, and setting to sorting
out his life, starting with the drink.
Jeremy Dennis 19.11.02