Now that Stomp has finally moved on the Vaudeville has rediscovered itself as an interesting playhouse, a sort of mini Haymarket. Terence Rattigan follows Oscar Wilde but to be honest The Deep Blue Sea is very dated and Edward Hall's production does little to disguise that. Rattigan's story of a doomed affair rarely loses interest, despite feeling 15 minutes too long and gets four stars thanks to some exemplary performances from Tim McMullan, Simon Williams (in his element as a stiff upper lip deserted husband) and Dugald Bruce-Lockhart as the younger lover who is only too aware of his lack of true character. Above all is Greta Scacchi in a career transforming performance plumbing depths of grief and final strength to face a bleak future. - David Baxter
02 Jul 08
Set amidst Francis O'Connor's ingenious design, in which the back wall of the shabby flat in Ladbroke Grove that is the location of the action can become transparent, revealing the imminent arrival of characters, this is a very fine production of a wonderful play. Some may view Terence Rattigan's work as dated, and indeed in some ways the story of The Deep Blue Sea is very much of its time, but the emotional ups and downs of its characters are as relevant to audiences today as they were when the play was written and the piece takes us on a rollercoaster ride of our own, for our reactions and expectations are sometimes confounded by what happens on the stage.
Hester Collyer has, ten months previously, left her eminently respectable husband, a judge, to share a flat with her much younger lover, Freddie Page, a former RAF pilot who is struggling to come to terms with civilian life, When the play opens she is found lying unconscious in the flat, having tried to commit suicide - nominally, it transpires, because Freddie, who is away playing golf, has forgotten her birthday. In fact her action derives from a much deeper insecurity about her relationship, for she knows Freddie does not love her in the way she does him and fears he will ultimately leave her.
The rest of the play explores not only Hester's and Freddie's relationship, but also the feelings of her husband Bill, who comes to see her on hearing about her suicide attempt. Other perspectives on the situation are provided by the presence of the young couple who live in the flat opposite, the mysterious Mr Miller, a former doctor who comes to attend to Hester, and Mrs Elton, the live and let live landlady, who knows all about her various tenants and their secrets and who is not always as discreet as she might be.
Hester Collyer is superbly and very sympathetically played by Greta Scacchi, with Simon Williams and Dugald Bruce-Lockhart giving equally fine performances as Bill and Freddie respectively. Tim McMullan plays Mr Millar, who provides Hester with common sense counsel as well as medical help, and Jacqueline Tong is Mrs Elton, whose interference in her tenants' affairs is always done with kindly intent.
What are Freddie's real feelings for Hester? Will he leave her – and, if he does, how will she react? Will she go back to Bill – if not, what will she do? In case you do not know the plot, I will not reveal the answers to these questions but would strongly urge you to go and find them out for yourself while you can. This production will provide a real treat not only for those who already like Rattigan's work but also for anyone who enjoys seeing an excellent staging of a superbly crafted play.
- Janet Polson
21 Jun 08
I would be interested to know if the generous reviewers on here are related to the cast?! This play was poor in so many ways: The script was dull, lightweight and of little value, despite what others would wish you to believe. The value of resurrecting it is beyond me when there must be so many others of worth. The acting however was the real gem! The strange pantoesque style must have been a mistake?! Some parts could be described as wooden but that would be unfair, to wood. Others as totally clawing and OTT. The only creditable performance was that of Freddie's friend who appeared for all of 5 minutes but stole the show in acting terms. It was truly a shame that Hester didn't do the job right in the first place and save us all being drawn into her drab, over dramatised world. Please, save your money, you'll thank me. - PM
15 May 08
I really hope that this production is successful and that it will inspire 'the powers that be' to release the film (with the wonderful Vivian Leigh) on DVD. I enjoyed Greta Schacchi in the role of Hester very much. Old fashioned? Yes! Interesting and worth the time? Certainly! - Charles Jenkins
30 Apr 08
I saw this production when it was at the Richmond Theatre a few weeks ago, and am pleased that it has transferred to the West End. It deserves a wider audience and a long run. I was pleasantly surprised by Greta Schacchi in the lead role. She develops the character of Hester Collyer beautifully, and by the end of the play, has achieved tragic status. Simon Williams was suitably urbane as her long-suffering and patient husband, and Tim McMullan as the enigmatic Mr Miller was impressive. I was not so convinced by Dugald Bruce-Lockhart as Hester's love interest - he seemed too self-conscious. The play itself, as always with Rattigan, is beautifully crafted. Old-fashioned it may be, but his mastery of the dramatic form remains unsurpassed. - sc
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