Under the Blue Sky was first seen at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs in September 2000 in a production directed by Rufus Norris with a cast including Sheila Hancock. This new West End premiere production is directed by Anna Mackmin, who directed Orlando Bloom in a revival of another Royal Court play, David Storey’s In Celebration, at the Duke of York’s last summer.
In the darkly comic play, a group of teachers get together for a long evening of drinking tequila and revealing secrets about friendship and love, both shared and unrequited.
Catherine Tate is joined in the West End cast by Lisa Dillon, Nigel Lindsay and Dominic Rowan, who recently finished a stint at the NT in Happy Now?. The production is designed by Lez Brotherston and produced by Sonia Friedman Productions.
Critics had mixed opinions on the success of this West End transfer, with some applauding the decision to bring the play “to a wider audience” while others lamented that the script was “crushingly simple” and out of its depth on a West End stage, being “middlebrow, schematic and undemanding”. The actors were largely hailed as “uniformly top class”, and Tate in particular was singled out as “splendid” in her “no-holds-barred performance”. Director Anna Mackmin was given credit for creating a “fine revival”, but critics just couldn\'t agree on whether Under the Blue Sky “defiantly waves the flag for bold new drama”, or is simply an “adolescent schoolboy comedy”.
- by Kate Jackson