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Watermill Theatre - The Deep Blue Sea

4th June to 4th July 2015

Review from Newbury Theatre.

Adultery, divorce, suicide. Attitudes (and laws) have changed since Terence Rattigan wrote The Deep Blue Sea in 1951, but his exploration of people’s emotions and reactions are still relevant today.

Set in a dilapidated boarding house in a run-down part of London, the action takes place in the Pages’ flat where Mrs Page has tried to kill herself. With the help of medically trained neighbour Mr Miller, with a no-nonsense bedside manner, she recovers but then has to confront again her troubled relationships with Freddie Page, an ex-fighter pilot and pretend husband, and Sir William Collyer, high court judge and real husband.

Hester (Mrs Page / Lady Collyer) is in a 10-month relationship with Freddie which is now foundering; she loves him, but he treats her badly and won’t commit. The uptight Sir William can give her comfort and security, but no excitement. Which way should she turn?

Hattie Ladbury is superb as Hester. Outwardly poised but inwardly nervy, she has an impossible struggle to pick herself up from her lowest starting point and try to put the pieces together, all made more complicated by the inclusion of Collyer in the picture. This was a very moving and believable performance.

Adam Jackson-Smith’s Freddie is a feckless cad but full of self-doubt and turning to drink to try and hide his problems. “You and I are death to each other,” he says to Hester, and it looks as though that could become literally true. It’s not a sympathetic part to play, but we felt a bit sorry for him by the end.

As Collyer, Adam Kotz epitomises the repressed stiff-upper-lip Brit, failing to understand how their relationship could have gone wrong or how he could repair it, but we could feel his anguish. The very strong performances from these three characters made it a gripping experience.

Among the supporting cast, Eliza Hunt was gutsy as the landlady Mrs Elton and Adam Best as Freddie’s friend was understandably bewildered by the unfolding crises. James Hillier as the enigmatic Miller provides the prop that Hester can finally lean on.

James Turner’s set gave a good impression of the seedy boarding house (until Hester put a shilling in the gas meter and it was bathed in bright blue light), and director Douglas Rintoul can be pleased with the excellent performances from his cast.


Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Devilishly good Rattigan

Rattigan's The Deep Blue Sea opens at The Watermill

The Deep Blue Sea, at The Watermill, Bagnor, until Saturday, July 4

Although The Deep Blue Sea, one of Terence Rattigan's best-known plays, was written in the 50s, it shows no signs of being dated, for it is concerned with human relationships and the emotion with which it is packed is as relevant today as at any other time in history.

The dramatic opening has Philip Welch (Fred Lancaster) and landlady Mrs Elton (Eliza Hunt) breaking into a dismal flat to find that Hester Collyer (Hattie Ladbury) has attempted suicide. She is saved by Mr Miller (James Hillier), another occupant of the boarding house who is an ex-doctor with a past, and Philip and his wife Ann (Bathsheba Piepe) then coerce Mrs Elton into telling them Hester's secret.

Hester is still married to Sir William Collyer (Adam Kotz), a well-respected judge, but left him a year ago to live with Freddie Page (Adam Jackson-Smith) and hearing this, the Welches decide it is their duty to make Sir William aware of Hester's attempted suicide.

When Freddie, who has been playing golf with his friend Jackie (Adam Best) returns, he finds Hester's suicide note and realises that his failure to remember her birthday has been the final straw which has led her to try to kill herself.

A turmoil of emotions follow as the over-bright Hester, brilliantly played by Ladbury in an outstanding performance, has to deal with the fact that, although she is still desperately in love with him, Freddie is leaving her, believing that to stay "would be the death" of both of them.

It becomes clear that Page's love for Hester is more a great fondness than a passion and as he leaves he tries unsuccessfully to reconcile Sir William and Hester. Tension increases as night approaches and those who have been involved in the previous attempt fear that Hester will try again.

The final scene is as dramatic as the first as Hester once more goes towards the gas tap.

The Deep Blue Sea has rightly stood the test of time and in the hands of this superb cast arid director Douglas Rintoul, every nuance of emotion is wrung from it, nevertheless leaving the audience at the end with the knowledge that there is always hope.

A first-rate evening.


There are reviews from The Stage ("sympathetic production" - 3 stars), The Public Reviews ("The Watermill’s production portrays the The Deep Blue Sea’s exploration of love and marriage with sharp clarity and with a fantastic cast this is a production well worth seeing" - 4 stars), The Good Review ("Kotz and Ladbury bring a real depth to their performances" - 4 stars).