Presented by Time Productions
Written by Ian Grant
Directed by Nadia Papachronopoulou
Designed by Natalie Pryce
Lighting Design by George Bach
Sound Design & Composition by Chris Drohan
Cast includes Jack Bennett, Mark Carlisle, Stuart Fox, Elizabeth Healey, Emily Tucker and Julia Watson
7th – 24th March 2018
Tuesday – Saturday 7.30pm
Sunday Matinees 11th & 18th March 4pm
Saturday Matinees 17th & 24th March 3pm
You’ve been away almost two years. I haven’t seen you, I haven’t hardly heard from you… I’m your wife.
London, 1914. As the Great War breaks out in Europe, Blanche and William meet at a dance and marry. They share a political passion for peace, but William enlists to fight in Belgium. Amidst the horrors of the battlefield, he finds love with another woman, while Blanche is left at home with their baby.
Ian Grant’s new play explores how our acts reverberate down the generations. Inspired by a true event, and spanning sixty years, After the Ball is a gripping ensemble piece about desire, personal responsibility and the devastating repercussions of human conflict.
Directed by Nadia Papachronopoulou (Unrivalled Landscape ★★★★ Time Out – Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond) and produced by Time Productions (Tiny Dynamite – Old Red Lion Theatre), After the Ball was shortlisted for the Terence Rattigan Society New Play Award 2017.
Highgate playwright Ian Grant’s previous work includes Stella Europa (Hen and Chickens Theatre) and the libretto Thomas Boleyn (Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford). He is Chairman of Inpress Ltd and The Poetry Book Society, and co-founded Time Productions after a successful 40 year career in publishing.
Post Show Discussion with Michèle Roberts
Wed 21st March 2018
After the performance we are holding a Q&A session, chaired by Michèle Roberts, leading novelist, poet, broadcaster, playwright, Emeritus Director of UEA creative writing and lifelong feminist. Please join us for an opportunity to delve deeper into the themes of the play, we’re sure it will be a highlight of our time Upstairs at the Gatehouse.
£10 – £16
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ReviewsCRISTIANA FERRAUTI, The Upcoming ★★★★
100 years ago, the United Kingdom fought side by side with other European countries in one of the most violent and irrational global turmoils of all time. The First World War marked the future of soldiers and their families – not only in terms of military involvement but also with regards to the personal and social choices of the people in the trenches and at home. After the Ball – by Ian Grant – delves into the memories and ripple effects of the actions of one couple, exploring their sentiments and affections – both towards their country and towards each other. Director Nadia Papachronopoulou’s new production of the play is a pleasure to witness; it stands out for its fresh and human take on a subject recurrently looked at from a distance – both temporal and emotional –, focusing on a family’s drama without aiming to necessarily draw tears, but rather to explore the social dynamics involved.
William (Stuart Fox) and Blanche (Julia Watson) get married soon after meeting for the first time at a ball. They both hold a peaceful stance at the dawn of the war: while she fights for the rights of women to vote, he is active in the events and meetings of a socialist union. However, as the conflict rages on their doorstep, William’s decision to volunteer for the army cracks their relationship. Blanche raises their daughter alone for the first two years while her husband is in Belgium allegedly helping in the trenches. Upon his return, society changes – and so too do family life and his wife’s sentiments.
The acting of the six members of the cast – which consists of an equal number of female and male performers, as the play also celebrates the parity of the sexes – is utterly compelling. Watson brilliantly rises to the challenge of a slow and incomplete emancipation. Although relegated at home, the heroine gains her own independence – at least intellectual – with her way of speaking changing over time. However weak she appears upon first entering the stage, the woman is indeed the strongest of the group, sacrificing herself for the sake of her family and holding onto her values of loyalty and peace – despite the betrayal and lack of care from her relatives. Juggling with multiple parts, Elizabeth Haeley likewise proves to be a first-class actress, one who can masterfully shift in between rather different roles.
With a script so well crafted, the development of the characters is refined. Though memories start to overlap with modern events at the beginning of the play, the expectations of a confusing plot are immediately turned down by swift and even changes. The setting and the costumes of the two main performers remain the same throughout After the Ball, however the movements in space and time are dictated by soft lights and background sounds that do not overwhelm the sequences, but subtly denote the shifts.
Photos by Mitzi de Margary