Following lukewarm reviews and despite the involvement of award-winning actor Stephen Dillane and director Michael Blakemore, Hannie Rayson's Life After George will close less than a month after opening. The Australian play opened at the West End's Duchess Theatre on 19 February (previews from 14 February) and had been booking until 15 June 2002. It will now close three months early on 16 March 2002.

In Life After George, Dillane plays a charismatic professor, Peter George, whose three wives meet up to arrange his funeral. The women represent the fulcrum of the professor's free-loving life, from the carefree 1960s to the present day. The play unfolds in a series of flashbacks, told from the perspectives of the women who shared in three different eras of his life.

Dillane himself received good notices for his performance in Life After George. The actor's last appearance in the West End was in the 1999 Donmar revival of Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing, which later transferred to the West End and Broadway. The much-lauded production garnered numerous accolades, including a Tony Award and Olivier nomination of Best Actor for Dillane. On television, the actor has appeared in The Rector's Wife, while films have included Sarajevo and Firelight.

Director Blakemore has also been much more accustomed to hits of late. Despite not winning any Oliviers, his revival of Cole Porter musical Kiss Me Kate won many awards on Broadway and has extended its West End run at the Victoria Palace where it opened last October. His other recent credits include the National's Copenhagen (another multi award winner, on both sides of the Atlantic), Alarms and Excursions and Mr Peters' Connections.

George's wives are played by Cheryl Campbell, Joanne Pearce and Anna Wilson-Jones. Also in the cast are Susannah Wise and Richard Hope. Life After George is designed by Peter J Davison, with lighting by Paul Pyant, sound by John Leonard and Robert Tory and music by Terry Davies.

Commenting on the closure, producer Michael Codron said: "We are deeply disappointed, but there was no sign of improvement, and this would become a burden to the cast playing to very small, though enthusiastic audiences."

- by Terri Paddock