CURRENT / NEXT PRODUCTION
After All These Years
by Giles Cole
A comedy about the passing of time...
and love... and last chances.
Relationships can be a delicate balance of hope, desire, memory, regret and much more besides. But what secrets are hidden waiting for their cue to change things for ever?
28 May - 2 June 2023
WINNER OF THE FRINGE REVIEW OUTSTANDING THEATRE AWARD 2023
"Cole has, like Ayckbourn, constructed a work in three acts of cumulative force and seriousness. Its future is in that form. One hour-forty with a break after the first work, it’s an absorbing three-act play and the finest revival of a new work I’ve seen in this Fringe. This is one of the three outstanding productions this Fringe, but it’s travelling too.
.... Holland’s transformation is in its way as astonishing as Charles Laughton’s transfiguring scene in the original aborted 1936 I Claudius. Holland’s wrenching out of his stroke to hammer down his truth is unnervingly convincing, the man stripped bare of everything but the way his truth works, Lear-like in self-recognition. This is phenomenal acting.
Close to him the mercurial and au fond self-recognition of Ball answers Marianne’s similar need to discover and act on her own truth. Her naturalistic hip-shooting answers, overlapping the conventional Joan in wild gyrations, always circling a world like a tethered ghost till she flies free, complements Holland. These two characters are on a final quest; it’s not as neat as anyone might think.
Pountney as director also plays off Holland’s relentless and roundabout-cunning, with palpable quiet reliefs of his own when the heat’s off in a slow-spread smile. He manages to convey the contentedness of a man happy with anyone and no-one, so long as he’s comfortable. And he generally is comfortable, a peacemaker who sometimes starts wars.
Buxton anchors Ball’s dipping and soaring till she has to let go, her character Joan bewildered at a troop member not obeying her dance captain. But she’s loyal. Cole’s consummate in showing how whatever conflicted loyalties each person shows the other in this cat’s cradle of frayed companionship, there are some secrets you won’t betray. And there’s no easy resolution.
Cole’s extending from one wistfully comic short to a three-act Chekhovian elegy for the dance of age, is in a defining league of its own. A superb play, it will now reach the West End.
To say it’s some of the very finest acting I’ve ever seen at the Fringe doesn’t do it justice. It will tour from July, first Quay Arts Centre, Newport, Isle of Wight, then rightly at Jermyn Street. Keep looking out for it.
Simon Jenner, Fringe Review, 28 May 2023