London in the summer of 1945. At La Vie en Rose — a homey private club where servicemen and bohemians drink rye, gin-and-French and black-market brandy, is the setting of "Absolute Hell," Rodney Ackland's 1952 play (also known as "The Pink Room") about the necessity of escaping reality and the awful loneliness at the core of it. This is a BBC version of the play. Dame Judi Dench plays Christine Foskett, the club's proprietor, a lonely middle-aged flirt with a soft spot for any man in uniform. Hugh (Bill Nighy) is a washed-up writer, Maurice (Charles Gray), a big man who enjoys his power. Miss R. B. Monody (Betty Marsden) once gave Hugh's work a scathing review, which he's never forgotten. Sam Mitchum (Nathaniel Parker), an American Air Force officer, is an aspiring writer who worships Hugh and is unimpressed with Maurice's offer to make him a movie star. Elizabeth Collier (Francesca Annis) is the picture of elegance, who upon seeing a photograph of her old friend Hetta in one of the German "horror camps" almost lets her concern for another human being affect her. One night a gun is fired and that changes everything.