Previewed 14 February 2002, Opened 19 February 2002, Closed 16 March 2002 at the Duchess Theatre
Michael Blakemore's production of Hannie Rayson's new play Life After George in London starring Stephen Dillane
The story of the charismatic radical professor Peter George, and his three wives. Spanning thirty years from urban Melbourne to the idyllic Tuscan countryside, Life After George presents a captivating view of life and the consequences each person's actions have on events.
The cast features Stephen Dillane as 'Peter George' with Cheryl Campbell as 'Beatrix', Joanne Pearce as 'Lindsay' and Anna Wilson-Jones as 'Poppy', with Susannah Wise as 'Ana', and Richard Hope as 'Duffy'. Directed by Michael Blakemore with designs by Peter J Davidson, lighting by Paul Lyant, music by Terry Davies, and sound by John Leonard and Robert Tory.
Stephen Dillane's London stage credits include the roles of 'Henry' in David Leveaux's revival of Tom Stoppard Real Thing at the Albery Theatre in 2000; the title role in Katie Mitchell's revival of Anton Chekov's Uncle Vanya, for the Royal Shakespeare Company, at the Young Vic Theatre in 1998; 'Clov' in Kate Mitchell's revival of Samuel Beckett's Endgame at the Donmar Warehouse in 1996; 'Edmund Tyrone' in Howard Davies' revival of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre in 1991; and 'Gerry' in Patrick Mason's production of Brian Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa at the Phoenix Theatre in 1991.
This production was originally scheduled to play a four-month season up to June 2002, but shortly after opening, closing notices for 16 March 2002 where posted.
"Michael Blakemore's involving and alertly performed production is the first real surprise package of the new West End season. At its heart is a furious row between George and his second wife, Lindsay, about what is happening in universities all over the world. Students are allowed to choose vocational courses. George erupts in fury. Instead of educated citizens, the university is producing corporate fodder. This is the centre of Stephen Dillane's unshowy yet hypnotic performance as the philandering George, a man for whom hope is a moral responsibility and sensuality a proof of existence... The play is a fascinating mix of solo speeches, intercutting dialogues in different time zones, with ingenious scenic alterations. So, we are in Paris in 1968, or the Tuscan hills 20 years later; and even on the sand dunes at Flinders for a moving, reconciliatory coda between father and daughter. A bright new play and a feast of good acting. Bravo!" The Daily Mail
"Hannie Rayson's Life After George contains some real wizardry from Oz. This hit from Melbourne comes with a British star; Stephen Dillane, leading a cracking cast... This is a grown-up, fascinating, thoughtful new play about our universities... This play is a sort of angry, cheesed-off lament for the whole idealistic Sixties thing. Stephen Dillane is mesmerising as George, a scruffy Marxist history don at Melbourne University who wants to make love not tea... It is an evening of love and loyalties, bustling with emotions and filthy rows, all tightly directed by Michael Blakemore. The only downer from Down Under was the show's boring all-grey set." The Daily Express
"Hannie Rayson doesn't stint on the flashbacks, and we are given plenty of evidence of how selfish and unreliable George could be in private life. But he remains a hero none the less - for his unswerving idealism, his life-enhancing qualities and his loyalty to his early ideals in an age when universities are being taken over by the money-men. Such is the theory, at least But what we are actually shown is a jargon-spouting lightweight who plays to the student gallery and shows no signs of ever having asked himself a hard question. His greatness has to be taken on trust: the only concrete proof we are offered is that he was in correspondence with Susan Sontag, E. P. Thompson, Milton Friedman, you name it... Dramatically, too, he is only half-realised; and although Stephen Dillane works hard at the part, twitching and gangling and hitching his trousers and stroking his beard, even his notable talents can only breathe in so much life. Yet for long stretches the play is absorbing even so. The real meat lies in the women characters, and in the conflicts or alliances between them rather than in their relationships with George. They are well drawn and well-acted." The Sunday Telegraph
Life After George in London at the Duchess Theatre previewed from 14 February 2002, opened on 19 February 2002, and closed on 16 March 2002