Oxford Stage Company this week launches a UK-wide tour of Terence Rattigan's rarely performed After the Dance. The new production, which marks the 25th anniversary of Rattigan's death, opens Thursday, 3 October 2002, at the Salisbury Playhouse before continuing until 7 December to five further venues.

Set in London's Mayfair in the 1930s, After the Dance tells the tale of hedonistic couple David and Joan Scott-Fowler and their battle to cling onto their youth as they enter begrudgingly into middle age. An illicit affair gets David into trouble, and sows the seeds of doubt in their 12-year marriage.

After the Dance was originally presented to great acclaim in 1939, but was forced to close prematurely with the onset of war. The play has not been professionally performed in the UK since, although his other stage works - which include The Browning Version, Cause Celebre and, most famously, The Winslow Boy - are regularly revisited.

Oxford Stage's revival of After the Dance is directed by the company's artistic director Dominic Dromgoole, and stars Michael Siberry (A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Albery, House and Garden at the National) and Catherine Russell (from TV's Chandler & Co) as the madcap couple.

After the Dance joins Oxford Stage's current production of follows Somerset Maugham's 1921 comedy, The Circle, on the road. The latter, starring Wendy Craig and Tony Britton, continues on tour until 26 October 2002. Both productions build on the company's stated aim of rediscovering neglected plays and writers.

After its run at the Salisbury Playhouse, After the Dance will visit Exeter, Bury St Edmunds, Oxford, Northampton and Guildford.

- by Peggy Nuttall