Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne
From Monday March 7 to Saturday March 12, 2022

by Tony Flood

Two-handers bring new challenges for actors and these are skilfully mastered by the talented Griff Rhys Jones and Janie Dee in An Hour and A Half Late at the Devonshire Park Theatre.
They bring out the humour and frustrations in a comedy featuring dissatisfied wife Laura and neglectful husband Peter, written by Gérald Sibleyras and Jean Dell,
Olivier Award winners Jones and Dee excel in exchanging emotions and home truths.They benefit from the clever adaption and direction of Belinda Lang, who previously played Laura alongside Jones’s late comedy partner Mel Smith as Peter in 2006. Belinda will also be remembered by many for starring in TV sitcom Dear John in the 1980s.
Laura decides at the last moment that she does not want to go to an important dinner party to celebrate a lucrative deal in which Peter’s business partner is buying him out of their tax consultancy business.
Jones calls upon his comic timing – and many facial expressions – as Peter tries friendly persuasion before showing his frustration, followed by desperation.
Laura is unmoved and reveals she feels deeply depressed and unfulfilled at the age of 53, having devoted herself to bringing up their three children who have all left home.
Logic escapes her, such as the fact they can afford a comfortable life style in their luxury riverside apartment (the set is well designed by Fotini Dimou).
The argument that develops covers various resentments in their marriage, including each other’s annoying habits and suspected affairs.
At one point during ninety minutes of bickering, with no interval to break it up, the play briefly lapses into the mundane, but there are two welcome pieces of slapstick, one involving the treading on squeaking floorboards to trigger sexual anticipation.
The big plus with An Hour and A Half Late is that it’s easy for the audience to sit back, relax and enjoy an evening’s light entertainment.