In a suspended time, in the dim light of an old stage, Henrik Vogler, a great theatre director, is seated in an armchair, motionless. It appears almost embalmed. He is 109 or maybe only 62. The scene is cluttered with stage equipment, scenes, equipment, left after an afternoon trial of
Strindberg´s "The Dream." But now the director is left alone. The building is completely deserted. The curtain is raised to halfway up. Suddenly Anna Egerman, a young actress, interpreter of the role of the daughter of Indra in the play directed by Vogler, appears on the scene. From this moment begins a close confrontation between the two who, suspended in a border area, finally allow themselves to speak the truth. It is almost a ray of light in a dark room for years, a moment of reality in an existence of fiction. The sudden entry of Rakel introduces other Bergmanian themes of extraordinary significance: the perception of time, the fear of old age, the extraordinary fragility of the female soul. That of Rakel is a figure that moves on the edge of the razor, an artist destroyed by his own talent, a skinned alive. In "After the rehearsal" Bergman does not create even more "characters," but languages, emotional functions, "containers" of fragility, anxieties, and fears, real women and men who are no longer able to live with lies, with the compromises of life bourgeois, old-children who risk their lives, lose their balance and fall to the ground in the grip of an obsessive need for truth, a possible meaning, a sign, a gesture that gives meaning to their little lives. In the end, the theater will remain forever that poor island suspended on the horizon, a more real place of reality. The last refuge not touched by the complexity of everyday life, by the arrogance of politics, by the protectors of court intellectuals, by the sale of public offices, governed solely by dreams and illusions, a small theater in closing, suspended in nothingness, on the abyss.