37: After Dinner

27 Apr

Andrew Bovell’s first play, After Dinner, couldn’t be more different to his later plays like When the Rain Stops Falling and Holy Day. Instead of big themes, overlapping stories and dark subjects, After Dinner is a comedy that borders on farce in places.

After Dinner

At first the characters seemed caricatures to me and the situation and dialogue very dated (Bovell was writing it in 1987), but the play overcomes this with a sweet blend of humour and sadness.

Paula and Dympie work together and regularly meet at a bistro on a Friday night for dinner and a band. This time they’ve invited another colleague, Monika, whose husband has recently died. Dympie is rude and a control freak, Paula is vivacious but browbeaten by her ‘friend’ and Monika is a mess. At the table next to them are two men: Stephen, who is looking for a root, and Gordon who is desperate to talk to another man about his relationship breakdown.

Five mismatched and lonely people talk, don’t listen, misinterpret and misunderstand each other to often comic effect.

We’ve come a long way in the 20 years since Bovell wrote After Dinner. I don’t think a man would flinch and run because another man was sharing his feelings, nor would the man expressing feelings be automatically labelled as a homosexual (as if it was a bad thing). But perhaps I move in more communicative circles. If that’s the case, I’m very grateful for it.

GORDON: Men do have emotions Stephen. And they can express them if only they’re allowed to. Believe me, a day has not passed since she left, that I haven’t wept like a lost child. Collapsed on the floor in a heap of uncontrollable tears …

STEPHEN: Shut up. Just shut up would you!

[…]

STEPHEN: I’m sorry if you thought that Brendon and I were like that. I’ve got nothing against homosexuals.

GORDON: What!

STEPHEN: I just don’t want to spend any time with one. Especially not my Friday nights.

Publisher: Currency Press

Cast: 3F, 2M

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