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An Hour and a Half Late starring Griff Rhys Jones and Janie Dee

14th March 2022 - 19th March 2022

A play by Gérald Sibleryas with Jean Dell.
Adapted and Directed by Belinda Lang

All looks rosy in leafy London W4. Peter is about to retire and sell his half of the accountancy business to his partner. They’ll be loaded. Laura has just packed their youngest off to university and the world is their oyster. Will they go on a cruise? Hike in the Himalayas? Take up golf? All that remains is for the documents to be signed. They’re off for a celebratory dinner when Laura drops a bombshell……

Olivier Award winners Griff Rhys Jones and Janie Dee star in this devastatingly funny portrait of a couple whose five minutes of candid conversation launches an outpouring of emotions, home truths, wine, nibbles and anarchy.

Actor, writer, presenter, comedian and two-time Olivier Award winner Griff Rhys Jones has previously been seen on stage as Fagin in Cameron Mackintosh’s Oliver!, Toad in the National Theatre’s The Wind in the Willows and in Feydeau’s An Absolute Turkey.

Janie Dee is one of the UK’s most versatile actors, the winner of Oliver Awards for CarouselComic Potential and Hello Dolly. Her recent credits include the Broadway hit Hand to GodFollies at the National Theatre, and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.

“Very funny … the conversations and arguments which most of the audience will identify and find hilarious. They’ve been there, said that, and hopefully weathered the storm”  British Theatre Guide


14th March 2022
19th March 2022
Event Categories:
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Festival Theatre
Grange Road
Malvern, WR14 3HB


Monday evening & Wednesday matinee: £44.80, £42.56, £40.32, £36.96 & £33.60
Tuesday to Thursday evenings & Saturday matinee: £47.04, £44.80, £41.44, £38.08 & £32.48
Friday & Saturday evenings: £49.28, £47.04, £43.68, £40.32 & £36.96
Concessions & members discounts apply
Under 26s £8.96
Prices include 12% booking fee
Show Times:
Monday 14th to Saturday 19th March '22
Evenings at 7.30pm
Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm

Event Reviews

  • Chris

    So very near the bone, having recently moved and retired to Malvern from W5 Ealing I could identify with the whole play, very funny and an excellent script, so well acted as well ...

  • Claire

    We watched this on Friday evening. A brilliant play, and a very enjoyable evening. The actors had great timing, with incredible chemestry that was easy to relate to. The concept of an hour and a half watching two people getting ready to go out does not sound very interesting but a tight, well directed script developed our understanding of the relationship, and history, of the couple to great amusement. The set was immaculate with simple but effective costumes.
    Well done and thank you for a fun and wonderful evening.

  • David Chapman

    SET your watches. Peter and Laura have just 90 minutes to save or sink their marriage.
    Preparing to set off for a dinner party that is financially important to Peter, Laura drops the cluster bomb that she doesn’t want to go. In fact, she has no intention of going.
    It’s a situation that probably many couples have faced during their lives together, but possibly rarely, will it have wreaked such havoc.
    Laura’s insistence that she does not want to go to dinner with people she does not like, is equalled by Peter’s adamant argument that she must... and so, An Hour and a Half Late develops into a series of awkward, but funny truths about the state of the couple’s marriage.
    Laura’s stand has sprung from the sudden realisation that her life has been filled with disappointment and now that the children have left home, all she has to look forward to is old age and death. Peter’s approach to changing her mind is tried and tested playful cajoling - on the basis that it has always worked in the past...
    This revealing dissemination, although at first a little slow to show its hand, is a smart piece of observation and rich pickings for its two stars, Griff Rhys Jones (Peter) and Janie Dee (Laura). They may be portraying a couple who could be in the throes of falling apart but the rapport between them is evident; on stage they are having a ball.
    Rhys Jones’ comedy credentials are legendary but here, in many ways, Dee outshines him.
    It is an intelligent and entertaining script equalled by a sumptuous set from designer Fotini Dimou.

  • View From The Stalls

    The running time for An Hour And A Half Late is, well, an hour and a half - not exactly coincidence as the show unfolds in real time (without an interval). The play comes courtesy of two French writers - Gérald Sibleyras and Jean Dell, with this version adapted by Belinda Lang (yes, she of 2 Point 4 Children fame).

    This two-hander stars Griff Rhys Jones and Janie Lee as Peter and Laura, a couple of empty-nesters who find themselves on the point of starting their retirement together with the kids now gone and his business partnership about to be sold for a healthy sum. To cement the deal, all they have to do is take up a dinner invitation with his business partner and wife.

    But this is sitcom-land and all is not well. As far as Peter is concerned, he is happily looking towards the future where he can indulge in a comfortable retirement of, basically, eating himself into a cardiac arrest, whilst Laura has decidedly cold feet about this meal, something which Peter cannot grasp as, after all, it is only a dinner invitation. Or is there something more going on here?

    Over the next ninety minutes, as the delay gets progressively longer in spite of repeated ignored calls from their would-be hosts, the bickering brings out the truth about their somewhat middle-class lives. Laura feels she has wasted her life simply because everything has been a rush - a rush to have children, a rush to get them schooled, a rush to get them off to college, all done without fulfilling her own politically leftist leanings. Except, perhaps, that one affair she may once have had. His life on the other hand, as a tax consultant, has been spent largely at work - he knows his business partner better than his own wife.

    House-proud to the end, she insists on putting down coasters to protect the tabletop, something which becomes rather futile towards the end of the show. Being a white middle-class couple with obviously higher ideals, any mess (and there is plenty) will have to be cleaned up by the foreign daily help in the morning.

    The actors work well together, realistically portraying a couple who suddenly discover that each has not quite been understanding the other over the years. It is a situation which many couple face as retirement dawns, realising they will have to spend more time together and deciding what on earth to do with all that extra time.

    There are some very funny sequences, especially around the food and the squeaking floorboards. So do they finally get to the dinner party or does the delay extend itself further? You'll need to see the show to find out…!

  • Mary

    A superb play; the script is clever, witty, hilariously funny and, at times, painfully accurate. The laughs are both subtle and broad, the jokes never fall short of their mark - in short, the production was superb!
    I felt sorry for the stage crew though, they must have a time of it after every performance. The beautiful set undergoes some "trying times" during the revelations, arguments and truths coming out during the "hour and a half" of conversation carried out between Laura and Peter.
    As for the two characters, I simply cannot praise Griff Rees Jones and Janie Dee enough! The acting was splendid, the comic timing perfect, whilst the emotions - and humour - just rolled off the stage and enveloped the audience! ?
    If I had a chance to watch it all again, I would, very happily!

  • John

    REVIEW: An Hour and a Half Late (Malvern Theatres – Monday, March 14, to Saturday, March 19).
    WELL, if you hadn’t sussed it by now, here we have it last… the indisputable, plain-as-the-nose-on-your-face confirmation that men and women are ultimately totally incompatible.
    Shocked by this? If so, don’t delude yourself, and pay a visit to the Festival Theatre this week to see the truth revealed before your very eyes.
    This play is a joint effort between writers Gerald Sibleyras and Jean Dell and we can only guess at the process – or indeed their own personal relationships - that has led them to create this masterpiece of dramatic observation.
    Up and down the land, there will at this moment be brides-to-be, all dewy eyes, something borrowed, something blue etcetera, anticipating along with equally deluded bridegrooms-to-be a lifetime of married bliss where the only raised voice is that of the local garden robin merrily trilling away on the window sill of the master bedroom.
    Yup, reality check time… so make the most of it folks, because once the confetti has been blown far and wide by the cold winds of the inevitable, and that mislaid slice of wedding cake has quietly rotted away in the drawer, you can be sure that the day of reckoning has indeed dawned.
    Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing undesirable or even unusual in a reasonable degree of incompatibility – some men may like footie, their wives more interested in aromatherapy, and ne’er the twain shall meet.
    But this is a slow-burn conventional war that has suddenly gone nuclear, in which there are no winners, as Griff Rhys Jones and Janie Dee so cleverly demonstrate.
    Starting with a few exchanged shots and then progressing to the heavy artillery, this is in effect a blazing, unrelenting domestic row that lasts for the hour and a half in the play’s title.
    Anyway, the couple are due to go out for the evening on a dinner date, but instead of the smoked salmon starter being expertly sliced on the kitchen cutting board, it is their marriage that ends up being dissected on a mortician’s slab with a succession of cruel, stabbing cuts using the rustiest of scalpels.
    And the blade cuts ever deeper to expose the canker that has set in. It is not a pretty sight, and one begins to yearn for the cessation of hostilities that never seems to arrive.
    Peter’s life had been one of total success, a veritable conveyor belt of glorious achievement. This means he can retire early, sell his half of the business to an associate, and then look forward to reaping the harvest of a working life that has most surely worked out well.
    But first, he has to go on that dinner date, at which he will consummate the deal with long-time business partner Roger. Trouble is that Laura sees this as a golden opportunity to unload a married lifetime of grievances on to the hapless Peter, who just cannot figure out where he’s gone wrong.
    Confusion gets nowhere near. Why is she saying all this? Haven’t I always been a good husband and provider? I’ve never been unfaithful, always granted your every wish? What more could I have done - for God’s sake?
    Taut-faced Laura turns on her heel to face him, bristling like an 18th century man o’ war about to deliver a broadside, which she does, with every shot hitting its target.
    The nervous laughter was by now erupting all around the Festival Theatre, first as sniggers, then guffaws – although I soon started to notice that the usual ‘professional laughers’ seemed strangely silent. Perhaps it was too close to the truth for some.
    Actually, when I say ‘some’ perhaps that should read ‘the many’. For there would be quite a few – me included, to be brutally frank – who could not fail to recognise those familiar dynamics that make up the long-term relationship in which complete and unfettered honesty must form the vital glue that, against the odds, somehow holds the whole thing together.
    So there you have it. Perhaps the moral of this cautionary tale is that while the male-female thing is obviously necessary for the continuation of the species, further on from that needs one hell of a lot of work, reassessment and fearless truthfulness. So. Are you ready to take up the challenge?
    John Phillpott
    This review also appeared earlier this week on Showtime! with John Phillpott.

  • Sheila

    Absolutely delicious evening. Janie and griff at their best.

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