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after dinner @ the wharf

After Dinner
Anita Hegh and Rebecca Massey in Andrew Bovell’s AFTER DINNER.Pics Brett Boardman

This new  production of Andrew Bovell’s brilliant debut comedy AFTER DINNER makes a perfect fit  for the wonderful Sydney summer that we are having.

I strongly recommend a  visit to the Wharf, one of Sydney’s finest  theatre venues, enjoying a wine before the show and taking in the lovely view of Sydney harbour from the balcony, and then heading into the theatre to see five of Sydney’s finest thespians playing very well drawn characters and presenting a night at the theatre imbued with humour and pathos.

The time period is the nineteen eighties, the setting is the dining room of an RSL club. The play shifts action between two tables as they wait for the local band to fire up, which only takes place very late in the proceedings.

On one table are work colleagues, – Dympie, Paula and Monika. They might get on great at work however there’s plenty of conflict between them on this night, not surprising considering their very different personalities.

Rebecca Massey and Anita Hegh play two very different women. Massey’s Dympie is very correct, controlling and super uptight. Hegh’s Paula  is  very laid back, natural and perhaps just a little too relaxed.

The wonderful Helen Thomson has the biggest role of the night and really goes to town playing the recently widowed Monika, delivering one of the finest performances of her distinguished career.

Thomson transverses the  huge u-turn journey that her character with plenty of style, from  being the grieving, unable to cope widow on the first night with her girlfriends, to getting totally sloshed, to ‘picking up’ at the end of the night.

Presiding at the other table are two  not so great beacons of the male species, Gordon and Stephen. Again it’s a case of very contrasting characters which Bovell milks for all its worth.

Glenn Hazeldine is excellent as the neurotic, doleful, insipid Gordon who is crying into his drinks after his recent separation from his wife.  He wants to unload about how poorly he is feeling to his mate, Stephen, when he arrives. Not a good call, the slick, good Stephen, played with panache by Josh McConville, isn’t in the mood to listen, and really just wants to check out the chicks at the next table.

Yes, you guessed it! It is a ‘moveable feast’ and the two tables do meet, with the gals joining the guys, leading to further comic mayhem. And then ‘the band’ strikes up with some great eighties songs, and there’s even dancing…

This really is quite irresistible the same again. Well directed by Imara Savage, AFTER DINNER opened at Wharf 1 on Tuesday 20th January and is  playing until Saturday 7th March.

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