“It’s hardly the place to take a gentleman. The night- birds of London roost there...”
Written in 1868, the year that the Finborough Theatre’s building was constructed, The first London production in over 120 years of Dion Boucicault’s rip-roaring Victorian melodrama, After Dark; or, A Drama of London Life, directed by the multi-award-winning Phil Willmott.
After losing his wife and daughter to the seductive charm of his fellow army officer Chandos Bellingham, Frank Dalton turns to drink and now lives homeless on the streets of London.
Dalton’s only daughter Eliza, having lost her mother in the workhouse and with the wicked Bellingham transported to Australia for a felony, is now married to the unprincipled George Medhurst. When Eliza learns her husband intends to abandon her so that he can claim his dual inheritance of both a baronetcy and a fortune, she decides to attempt suicide by jumping into the River Thames, but is saved by a group of tramps – including her own father.
As the characters search for meaning and happiness whilst trying to escape the mistakes of their past, Captain Gordon Chumley, recognising Dalton as a former army comrade, agrees to help Eliza…only to fall foul of the villainous Bellingham who ties him across the rails in a tunnel of the (newly built) London Underground just as an oncoming train is approaching…
Last seen on stage in London in 1896 and filmed twice in both the UK and Hollywood in 1915, After Dark; or, A Drama of London Life is a classic Victorian melodrama by Dion Boucicault, one of the greatest theatrical figures of the 19th century, but is also startlingly contemporary with its thrilling climax on the London Underground, and its sympathetic portrayal of London’s homeless community.
Long-lost slice of Victoriana with a worthwhile curiosity value
Dion Boucicault’s convoluted melodrama is elevated by the earnestness and imagination of Phil Willmott’s canny revival
This trio of actor musos mix comical lyrics with beautiful harmonies, timely discordant rifts and witty, contemporary allusions