Still Life is the love story that would become the classic film Brief Encounter. Laura is a happily married housewife who travels by train into the nearby town once a week to shop and change her library book. One week she gets a piece of grit in her eye from the passing express train, and is rescued by Alec, a doctor who visits the town every Thursday to work at the hospital. As they meet each week — first accidentally, and then quite deliberately — in the station refreshment room, they fall deeply in love. Their passion is only matched by their horror at betraying their families: they remain poised only on the edge of happiness.
Still Life is a short play from the Tonight at 8.30 cycle, conceived by Coward as an antidote to the boredom of a long run of the same script. It is a sequence of ten plays to be performed by the same cast in sets of three, alternating matinées and evenings, ranging from farce to melodrama to romantic comedy.
After touring, Tonight at 8.30 was produced at the Phoenix Theatre in London in 1936.