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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  London Theatre Reviews

at the Vaudeville


  Greta Scacchi

Deep? Not really. Blue? Can be. All at sea? Well some theatre goers might feel that way, but this is still sterling silver stuff, a rare sighting of an old fashioned well-made play. Once a solid staple for regional British theatres and tours, usually after an initial success in London, this was one of many post-war successes, when, long before TV beckoned, a parade of productions took off for the 'provinces' (anywhere beyond London) on extended tours and regional runs.

Still do, as most British towns will have at least one theatre made for live stuff-my home town being a seasonal seaside resort we had several. So I first saw it at the local professional rep theatre-a theatre-struck kid from the age of 11, having greedily gulped down the sweet poison when my Mother took me to view Good Night Vienna ( with Jack Buchanan!) at the end of the war. ( Being mostly formal dress it was a great way to use up old black out drapes) And I wanted more.

That's why there are so many small-cast-one-set plays from that era. And actors to do them, brava! In the current production of Terence Rattigan's The Deep Blue Sea, all eight actors acquit themselves well, under Edward Hall's direction. As the erring lady, Greta Scacchi is touching , though she looks far too young on the programme cover. Her bit of rough (well more a slice of smooth in the capable hands of Douglas Bruce-Lockhart) is plausible and innocent. The husband, Simon Williams, commands respect for style as the emotional yet tight-lipped lawyer of stature.

Deep Blue Sea uses a common theme: the abandoned older woman story, in love with a husky young hunk, inevitably having to pay for it. Not in cash maybe, but with some deep distress. Indeed, she's left twixt the devil and the deep blue sea, but doesn't retry her suicide effort. With great style the highly polished playwright pulls out all the stops, ending inevitably with the abandoned lady lone, torn weeping. Not a dry seat in the house, as Jose Limon used to say. But ultimately, one can't really feel too sorry for her-she could be more moving. And Rattigan, perhaps mistakenly, does not leave her to wither in this ghastly flat: he has provided an understanding well-off hubby.

Some theatregoers seeing this classic Rattigan play of the fifties, might wonder at the sentiment it is imbued with in the peculiar taste of the time. High drama too, as the lead is saved from killing herself for love. Seductive, with strong characters, it's closely plotted, often comical: alluring, while as sweetly cloying as English steamed pudding, a typical theatre treat of the time. In the intimate Vaudeville Theatre, The Deep Blue Sea rolls, but also smoothes the waves.



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