Birmingham ad Touring
FLARE PATH: Terence Rattigan
The Original Theatre Company and Birdsong Productions
Birmingham Rep to 30 April
Runs: 2h 25m, one interval.
Review: Alexander Ray Edser, Bham Rep, 25 04 16
A powerful drama is a powerful dram
There was a time, not so long ago, when Rattigan and his plays were all but forgotten – irrelevant and dated beyond redemption. Not so now; he’s back in favour.
This touring production enables us to see why the play still works. Rattigan, who wrote it in 1942, is a consummate writer of the well-made play; and a well-made play, well made, still works when well done. Set in a small hotel in 1942 on the edge of a rural aerodrome the play is a brief snapshot of the lives of crews from Bomber Command, and crucially their wives and girlfriends. Part of a perceived problem with this particular play is that other main characters are famous actors. But then Rattigan is writing about what he knows at first hand – theatre society, RAF and war.
His handling of his material is complex, though. The war is seen, frequently, through the eyes of the women, and frequently the working class women – not what we might expect. At this distance, the story is about the horrors of war, yes, but also about the power of friendship, of comradeship, and love. All good stuff, but it might all go for nothing if it were not for Rattigan’s skill at building in drama, a mid-play climax of shattering power, and a conclusion that will draw tears from the most cynical among us.
This is a strong ensemble company. Lynden Edwards and Hedydd Dylan take on the two theatre roles, Peter Kyle and Patricia Warren, bringing them warmly to life with impressive sincerity and transparency, with Daniel Fraser giving us Flight Lieutenant Graham (Teddy), the third person in that particular triangle. The scene in which Graham reveals his trauma to Warren is exquisitely moving.
Graham Seed brings us an affable Squadron Leader, suitably dotty but strongly human. While Claire Andreadis is a charming, warm flesh-and-blood working-class girl made into a Countess.
Something in this for everyone.
(Credits to follow shortly)