Thirty years old is a difficult age for a play in this country. Australian cultural memory is not exactly short, but it certainly tapers in the middle where such plays lie, flanked on one side by The Canon and, on the other, by The Next Big Thing. Andrew Bovell’s After Dinner – initially a melancholic one-acter for three women, later expanded and recast by the playwright for his drama school peers as a sort of boulevard comedy – feels exceptional in this regard: a not-quite-new, not-quite-old Australian play that has nevertheless entered the repertoire. On its completion in 1988, it played in Melbourne for almost half a year and seems to have been produced uninterruptedly since, including by Sydney Theatre Company as recently as 2015. In Bovell’s program note for this solid revival by the State Theatre Company of South Australia, he describes it, not wrongly, as ‘a classic comedy of the Australian theatre’.
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