A Very Welcome Revival of a Rodney Ackland Classic

Penny Flood has great fun watching After October at The Finborough

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Sasha Waddell as Rhoda

Photos by Mitzi de Margary

After October at The Finborough Theatre

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This is a glorious, rambunctious revival of Rodney Ackland's semi-autobiographical, bitter sweet comedy about Clive Monkhams(Adam Buchanan), an aspiring young writer.

Adam Buchanan as Clive Monkhams

Written in 1937 and revived in 1997, this is its third very welcome outing. It's a sharply observed, witty script with some great characters, and it's very funny.

All Clive wants is a bit of peace and quiet, but there's fat chance of that as the tiny basement flat he shares with his adoring mother is constantly invaded by an assortment of characters.

Mother Rhoda (Sasha Waddell), now fallen on hard times used to be an actress and in between struggling with the vacuum cleaner and dodging her debtors and the bailiffs, she takes every opportunity to relive her glory days, sometimes breaking into song often accompanied by her daughters Lou and Joan. It's great fun.

There's a cast of 11, who parade in and out, sometimes through the doors and at other times through the window. Each one has their own intriguing back story so there' s lots going on all the time.

Then Clive gets the call he's always dreamed of - a producer likes his play and will put it on in the West End. From now on in everything's going to be better, the play will be a success, they'll have lots of money and all their problems will be over.

A constant presence throughout and a counterpoint to the drama and theatricality is the down-to-earth home help Mrs Batley (a marvellous Josie Kidd) who has some of the funniest lines made even funnier by their deadpan delivery. Mrs Batley always wears a hat, even indoors, to show she's not in service, she's a lady with dignity, yet in spite of herself she too gets caught up in the excitement.

Beverley Klein as Marigold

Added to the mix are the thick-skinned Marigold (Beverley Klein), who Rhoda doesn't quite approve of as she was seen walking along Bond Street eating peanuts out of a bag, and Oliver (Patrick Osborne), an anarchist poet who has no conscience over stealing Clive's book while scrounging off him.

And so it gallops along. It's just over two hours but the time passes quickly as so many stories unfold, some resolved some left hanging with some unanswered questions: why is Joan having an affair with her horrible boss? will Rhoda every pronounce Armand's name correctly? why is Lou going back to Paris and leaving her French husband in London? will Oliver get his comeuppance? and, of course, what will Clive do next?

After October continues at the Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Road, SW10 from till December 22, Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm with matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 3pm.

Find out and book tickets online or call the 24 hour box office on 0844 847 1652.

December 1, 2016