Parties: Tales from the crypt

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The Independent Online

It was hard not to look at Mathew Horne in a new light after the opening night of Entertaining Mr Sloane, a revival of Joe Orton's play at the Trafalgar Studios. Previously known as the everyday man Gavin, from Gavin and Stacey, Horne had evolved into the play's ruthless seducer; and his new-found sexual magnetism didn't end after the curtains came down: as guests entered the recently restored vaulted crypt of St Martin's in the Fields, London, life imitated art, as a stream of admirers threatened to overwhelm Horne with gushing praise and a barrage of flirting (from both sexes).

Similarly, Horne's co-star Imelda Staunton was as energetic off-stage as on, darting about to catch up with friends Jim Broadbent and Richard Eyre.

Neil Pearson, meanwhile, managed to get in a word or two with Kathy Burke, who had enabled the production by buying the rights, and drew a crowd of braying acolytes for much of the evening.

While the play faithfully recreated the sexual tensions of the 1960s, the party aimed for a more recession-hit 1970s vibe – no champers, no waiters, just beer and wine – although it proved no bar to the usual high-spirited air-kissing and shrieks of "You were marvellous" and "No, you!" between cast members, not to mention other luvvie friends including Prunella Scales and Timothy West.

By the time Burke and Broadbent were leaving, word of the gathering had got round the West End and a barrage of autograph-hunters greeted them — leaving the new-look Horne to slip away relatively unnoticed.

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