Tuesday, 31 May 2011
Theatrical Interlude 8
Flare Path, Theatre Royal, Haymarket, May 2011
I can't entice Mr Bookworm to London that often and so having planned a weekend in the 'Big Smoke' I thought I'd make the most of it and as well as seeing Much Ado About Nothing at the Globe I decided that we should see something else.
I read Flare Path recently without knowing that there was a London performance and then got very excited when I discovered that it was currently playing. When I found that there were good seats left for the night we were in London I decided on the spot that this was the second play we were going to see.
I hadn't told Mr Bookworm much about it at all, just that it took place over the course of one evening and featured a WW2 airbase. He trusted me and in the end loved it.
The play in itself is I suppose quite slight. The wives of an air crew are all at a hotel near to their husband's airbase and it seems like they will all have one night together when a mission is scrambled. The play is then about the tension felt by the crews and the families during and after a mission. There are another couple of plot strands but I don't want to 'spoil' the play in anyway. The slow drama and the what ifs are what make the play so watchable from curtain to curtain.
The two acts flew past and the whole play felt very much like watching a black and white war movie that was actually written and filmed during WW2 - which isn't surprising as Rattigan did write the play in 1941 and it premiered in 1942.
I think that there were a lot of people in the audience who had gone to see this because Sienna Miller was playing one of the lead roles, and that they either didn't know what to make of the play or didn't like it as there were lots of grumbles about it being 'dated'. I didn't find it at all dated - just a beautiful period piece.
Sienna Miller might also have got top billing for her role but I don't think that hers was the main part in of the play, important yes but not the lead. Again hard to say more without fear of a spoiler...however I found it to be a perfect ensemble piece without a weak link.
It was a magical experience and I will certainly make more of an effort to see more Rattigan plays as they are performed. The balance of pure 'Englishness', humour and emotion worked it's spell over me.
For those worrying about Mr Bookworm being bored by the theatre - don't be.
He assures me he enjoyed both plays and then on the Sunday we did go to the Science Museum to watch the Hubble Space Telescope 3d IMAX movie which although I enjoyed is certainly more his thing than mine!