1 9 7 9 (UK)
3 x 60 minute episodes
This trilogy by Elizabeth Jane Howard (produced by Yorkshire Television) told of love in a country house during the course of a weekend in 1960 and was appropriately shown on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Friday night was not promising. The concerns of the various protagonists appeared trivial and self-regarding, arousing irritation in place of sympathy.
Saturday was a different matter. The situation was even more fraught but the director and cast were now able to imbue it with a significance that tempered the wilder excesses of histrionics. The improvement was marked and, although the effect was not completely sustained, there was cohesion and consistency that had been lacking in the first episode.
The remonstrating spirit of the deceased Julius was a baleful influence but those who survived were very much alive. Some were nicer than others. Petra Markham contrived to make Emma, the white sheep of the family, engaging and lovable as well as good, and both she and Paul Copley as Dan gave generously with a welcome unaffected style.
As the hysterical and truculent Cressy, Cyd Hayman struggled with the impossible, aptly commenting “I suppose I do tend to dramatise things”, as she was required to maintain a high pitch of distress that took its toll on diction and credibility.
Faith Brook’s sensitive and measured interpretation of Esme gradually built to the final acceptance of a cruel injustice, though Felix King (John Carson) did not always seem to be the proper object of all this passion.
In the end, After Julius did not really amount to very much. It was a storm in a teacup – albeit one of fine bone china – that never enthralled but had its moments of disturbing and painful intensity.