"Rattigan’s passionate intense emotional drama"
by Jill Lawrie for remotegoat on 29/06/19

The latest production in the intimate Minerva Theatre is Terence Rattigan’s “The Deep Blue Sea”, an intense and impassioned drama exploring an unhappy and obsessive relationship, thought to result from his own closeted liaison.
The action takes place over one day in a shabby flat in Ladbroke Grove. Hester Collyer has left her husband Judge Sir William Collyer and now lives with her younger lover ex RAF pilot Freddie Page. Their turbulent affair is disintegrating, and the play famously opens with Hester lying in front of the gas fire attempting to take her own life. However, her life is spared (due to lack of gas!) but this bungled suicide impacts on war-damaged Freddie who cannot bear to make her so unhappy and leaves to take up a job in South America. Meanwhile her estranged but protective husband is contacted by Hester’s concerned neighbours and he offers her the stability she clearly has not got with Freddie, but she sees his loving attempts to win her back as putting her between the devil and the deep blue sea…
Paul Foster directs with designer Peter McKintosh providing the cluttered drab domestic interior setting.

Nancy Carroll has the challenging role of embittered, childless and desperate Hester which she plays magnificently. No longer the loving wife but an all-consuming, neurotic mistress who feels she cannot live without Freddie ~ he is the whole of life to her. Her fragile frame gives great depth to the despair she faces. The role of her lover boyish Freddie is taken by Hadley Fraser who epitomises the dashing unemployed former Spitfire pilot, with utterly selfish disregard for Hester’s feelings as his social drinking habits get out of control. Fraser masterfully handles this emotive and passionate figure at a breathless pace and gives a performance of great skill. Emotionally impeded Sir William Collyer is movingly played by Gerald Kyd ~ the affluent and respectable judge, he gives an accomplished portrayal of enduring love and disillusionment. Matthew Cottle impresses as the disgraced doctor Mr Miller and Ralph Davis too as neighbour Philip Welch.

This complex play brilliantly illustrates the emotionally retarded 1950’s with their clipped British accents and suppressed emotions. An impressive revival of this classic masterpiece.

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