Alfie and George

Aug 16 2023 | By More

★★★☆☆     Last curtain

Hill Street Theatre (Venue 41): Fri 4 – Fri 11 Aug 2023
Review by Tom Ralphs

If the ghost of Samuel Beckett was invited to return from the grave to write an episode of Inside No.9 he might have come up with a similar idea to the one used for Alfie and George at Hill Street Theatre.

Set in a dressing room behind the stage where a pantomime is about to begin, the titular characters bring to mind a cross between Morecambe and Wise and Steptoe and Son actors Wilfrid Bramble and Harry H. Corbett.

They can still play best friends and comedy double act when they’re saying someone else’s lines, however once the façade slips, neither of them want to be in the same room as each other. But equally, that they have nowhere else they can be.

Promotional shot for Alfie and George

Alfie in particular seems trapped. Facing an existential crisis where all the agents he has ever known are either dead or no longer offering him parts, he is also estranged from a son he hardly saw while he was growing up, and is struggling to remember his lines. It’s as if the last reason he has to be alive is disappearing and he is powerless to do anything about it.

Graham Dallas, as Alfie, brings out all these tragic elements of the character, and also the darker side of him that is revealed as the play progresses.

Paul Murray as George is the more confident and optimistic of the two, and with good reason as he knows he has a future that is being denied to Alfie, and that he will be better off without his lifelong colleague. Murray has an ageing swagger and cunning about him, as well as playing out the duplicity in secret phone calls every time Alfie has to head to the stage.

misery and despondency

The cast is rounded out by a tour guide who makes a very brief appearance showing people round the venue at the start of the play, much to George’s annoyance. That there is something more to the role than meets the eye is confirmed when he reappears later in the play.

The set design captures the misery and despondency of the setting and Alfie’s mood, as old tables and chairs and a clothes rail with pantomime dame outfits sit alongside bleak lighting to suggest that like Alfie and George themselves, the theatre behind the dressing room has also seen better days.

Derek Douglas directs for Edinburgh Little Theatre in a way that avoids sympathising with the two men or glamourising their situation. The monologues and scenes where Alfie and George are not in performer mode work well in creating their co-dependency and mutual loathing.


The scenes where they perform their act, however, suffer because of their accuracy and length.

It is clear that Alfie and George are tired of saying the lines and their material has long since lost the limited humour that it once possessed. The scenes stay on longer than they need to show this, distracting from the dynamics in the real relationship and dragging the performance down while they play out.

Nonetheless it’s an entertaining play with a few twists that suggest that in spite of their desire to be apart, Alfie and George will be together for a long time still.

Running time: One hour (no interval)
Hill Street Theatre (Dunedin Theatre), 19 Hill St, EH2 3JP (Venue 41)
Thursday 4 – Friday 11 August 2023
Daily at 3.45pm
Tickets and details Book here

Edinburgh Little Theatre links

Company website:

Instagram: @edinburghlittletheatre

Facebook: @Edinburghlittletheatre

Twitter: @edlittletheatre


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