5 March 2022
AN HOUR AND A HALF LATE (Richmond Theatre) Review

A husband and wife on the way out the door to have dinner with another couple when she suddenly throws a wobbly and decides they should have a heart-to-heart instead.  Hilarity ensues.

Griff Rhys Jones is Peter, the mumbling bumbling husband on the brink of retirement.  I found Rhys Jones’ accent at odds with the character.  I am not great with regional accents and all that, but he somehow sounded far more posh than necessary and also quite difficult to understand in places.  That aside, his comedic timing was fantastic.  His hopping around the room to find squeaky floorboards left the audience in stitches, and his talk about how retirement is best spent eating all the delicious foods without any sense of guilt left us positively salivating.  Some of the physical comedy was a bit trite (such as trying to take a bite of his roll but being constantly interrupted), but still very enjoyable.  Although, to me anyway, Peter is more of a supporting role, Rhys Jones managed to give him depth and realism in a wonderfully understated way.

Janie Dee is Laura, Peter’s turbulent wife.  She is contradictory but extremely likeable.  Dee never disappoints, and it was such a treat to see her in a complex role.  She goes from a tired middle-aged woman to a young-at-heart collage artist to a sexy thing to a foodie without skipping a beat, and it lifts the whole performance.  There are a few places where the dialogue goes on a bit of a tangent, so it’d be quite easy to lose attention there, but Dee is a master of facial expressions and little movements that keep you captivated.  The 5-second scene with the mayo alone was worth the admission price.  I am struggling to imagine Laura better played by anyone else.

Belinda Lang’s direction keeps things sweet and to the point, as well as creates great synergy between Rhys Jones and Dee.

Cheapskate enjoyment value: £5.

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