From: Thursday, 17th March 2011
To: Saturday, 11 June 2011
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Cause Celebre is based on the true story of Alma Rattenbury (Anne-Marie Duff) who was put on public trial in 1935 with her 18-year-old lover for violently killing her husband. The Old Vic production is part of the 2011 centenary celebrations of Terrence Rattiganís birth.
Condemned by the public, more for her seduction of a younger man than for any involvement she may have had in her husbandís death, Almaís fate is left in the hands of the socially and sexually repressed jury forewoman, Edith Davenport (Niamh Cusack).
Through these two women, this powerful play examines the role of passion, guilt and loyalty in a study of 1930s English sensibilities.
Anne-Marie Duff returns to the stage for the first time since 2007 when she won Evening Standard Theatre, South Bank Show, and The Critics' Circle Awards, as well as receiving an Olivier Award nomination, for her 2007 performance in Saint Joan at the National Theatre. Among her other stage credits are King Lear and Collected Stories. In addition, she received BAFTA nominations for Shameless and The Virgin Queen.
Niamh Cusack's (Edith Davenport) many theatre credits include Women, Power and Politics (Tricycle), Andersenís English (Hampstead Theatre and UK tour), Dancing at Lughnasa at The Old Vic, Sir Peter Hallís Portrait Of A Lady (Theatre Royal Bath), The Enchantment and Nicholas Hytnerís His Dark Materials both at The National Theatre. Her television credits include ITVís Fallen Angel with Emilia Fox, The Last Detective with Peter Davison and the hugely popular drama series Heartbeat.
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Michael Coveney - 29 March 2011
Terence Rattigan’s last play, Cause Célèbre, was written for radio, and it shows, even though the script was heavily re-worked for its West End premiere in 1977.
Thea Sharrock’s Old Vic revival, though not a patch on Neil Bartlett’s beautiful staging at the Lyric, Hammersmith, in 1998, does its best to cover the clunkiness of the courtroom scenes but is not helped by an uncharacteristically featureless design by Hildegard Bechtler that provides a grim upper level for a prison cell.
The famous case was that of Alma Rattenbury, a bohemian songwriter in Bournemouth, and her young lover, a 17 year-old gardener-cum-chauffeur, George Percy Stoner (here re-named George Wood), accused in 1935 of murdering Alma’s elderly husband.
Rattigan’s masterstroke was to counterpoint Alma’s story with that of a fictional reluctant jurywoman, Edith Davenport, who is trapped in a dead marriage and then caught up in a custody ...
Latest User Review
David Baxter - 19 May 2011:
The rehabilitation / celebration of Terrence Rattigan continues with Thea Sharrock's excellent revival of Cause Celebre. Although it was written in 1977 it's a delightfully old fashioned example of the well-made play and further proof that you can't go far wrong for tension and excitement than a courtroom drama. Anne Marie Duff might not appear to be obvious casting as the glamorous socialite Alma Rattenbury, but she is particularly good at conveying the vulnerability of the character and Nicholas Jones is on terrific form in familiar territory as the defence barrister. As usual Michael Coveney seems to be taking a deliberately contrary view but I must agree with him that Hildegard Bechtler's set design is uncharacteristically disappointing and at times the vast stage of the Old Vic seemed too big for the production, but this does not detract from the quality of Rattigan's story-telling....
Anne-Marie Duff (Alma Rattenbury)
Niamh Cusack (Edith Davenport)