Actors Janie Dee and Griff Rhys Jones pictured in a set designed as a living room playing Laura and Peter in An Hour and a Half Late currently showing at Malvern Theatres

An Hour And A Half Late at Malvern Theatres: Review

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There is something rather comforting about understated comedy. No grand comedic gestures, elaborate set changes or huge cast to hide behind. Just two people, one set and an hour and a half of gentle entertainment. Think of it as an upmarket version of the Royle Family. Nobody goes anywhere, nothing dramatic happens. We are simply treated to ninety minutes as a fly on the wall of the Simpkins family home.

Actress Janie Dee pictured in a set designed as a living room playing Laura Simpkins in An Hour and a Half Late currently showing at Malvern Theatres
Janie Dee as Laura

About An Hour and a Half Late

An Hour and a Half Late from PW Productions and Theatre Royal Bath Productions was written by Gerald Sibleyras with Jean Dell and adapted and directed by Belinda Lang. It stars Griff Rhys Jones and Janie Dee as a couple who have recently become grandparents.

Their last child has flown the nest and they are facing up to the slowing pace of life. Griff Rhys Jones’ character Peter is soon to retire from his job as a tax consultant. His business partner Roger is due to buy him out, and Peter and wife Laura are about to go to dinner with Roger and wife Christine. As Peter fidgets about waiting for Laura to get ready (a scene that every couple watching can probably relate to), Laura announces that she is categorically not going.

A five minute chat about life and the future soon turns to a full on crisis of confidence. Laura bemoans her decision to give up work when she had children. What could she have achieved if she had been born 20 years later when women had more choices? Peter takes a classic sexist view on the problem, insisting that he wouldn’t have stopped her if she had wanted to go back to work. She’d had everything she needed, including help looking after the house and children. They each lament their various sacrifices for the sake of their families.

Actors Janie Dee and Griff Rhys Jones pictured in a set designed as a living room playing Laura and Peter in An Hour and a Half Late currently showing at Malvern Theatres
Laura and Peter deep in conversation

An Hour and a Half Late at Malvern Theatres: Review

As somebody who doesn’t always appreciate slapstick comedy, An Hour and a Half Late was a breath of fresh air. There was no forced, excessive silliness or over-acting. It is an endearing insight into the life of a couple who, whilst very much still in love, have become stuck in a rut. Their respect for each other is played out in their ability to discuss the situation. Audiences are drawn into their inner circle of confidence.

Whilst there are a few minor revelations about Laura and Peter’s marital affairs (or lack thereof), none of it is dramatic or extraordinary. They partake in some gossip and speculation about acquaintances, Laura takes up collaging as a hobby and Peter reveals his desire to stop worrying about what he eats and make friends with the dessert cart.

So, does the lack of drama, action and slapstick detract from the substance of the production? On the contrary, in fact in my opinion that’s what makes it. Gentle humour, affection, laughter and tears. All the ingredients of an easy to watch, engaging play starring two fantastic actors.

What else do you need to know?

  • When is An Hour and a Half Late at Malvern Theatres? From Monday 14th March to Saturday 19th March 2022. Evening shows start at 7.30pm and matinees are on Wednesday and Saturday at 2.30pm.
  • How long does the performance last? 90 minutes with no interval.
  • How to book tickets: Tickets are available to book on the Malvern Theatres website.
  • Where will An Hour and a Half Late be showing next? From Monday 21st March 2022 to Saturday 26th March 2022, An Hour and a Half Late will be in Brighton Theatre Royal. After that it moves on to Guildford and then Cambridge. More information about the tour is available on the PW Productions website.

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