Originally starring Albert Finney, Tom Courtenay and Ken Stott, its convenient length (unusual for a West End show at the time) and content made it perfect for discussion over a post-show meal.

Divorced dermatologist Serge has bought a new painting which he’s proudly showing off to one of his oldest friends, aeronautical engineer Marc, whose tastes are considerably more conventional. For the not inconsiderable sum of100,000 (200,000 Francs when it was first staged!) Serge has purchased an unframed, 5’ by 4’ canvas – a pure white background crossed by diagonal strokes of …..white. Marc scoffs, and their younger, soon to be married friend Yvan gets caught up in the middle of a disagreement about artistic merit which escalates into a potentially destructive re-evaluation of fifteen years of friendship

Yvan (who, after six years in therapy,  has moved from textiles to what threatens to be a tedious job as a stationery salesman) seems an unlikely pal for his more sophisticated elders, but comedian Tim Key delivers his stressed out, prenuptial rant with aplomb.

Rufus Sewell and Paul Ritter are nicely differentiated as, respectively, suave Serge (still with a twinkle in his eye) and traditionalist Marc (who can’t hide his anger), both  tackling their midlife crises in diverse ways.

And returning to this elegant play after two decades, director Matthew Marcus (with the help of his original creative team) proves that it still exerts a certain charm with its wry, not always gentle humour.

Old Vic, The Cut, SE1 8NB

Tube: Waterloo

Until 18th February 2017     

Tickets £12.00- £65.00