Cambridge's leading amateur theatre production company

Established 1981

The Deep Blue Sea
by Terence Rattigan  directed by Brenda Cottis

The ADC Theatre, Cambridge, April, 2006

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A Review of the Deep Blue Sea
by Margaret Clark

By coincidence the year that celebrates the 50th anniversary of LOOK BACK IN ANGER has seen a continued revival in the plays of Terence Rattigan. Who can forget David Suchet's fascinating and destructive role as Gregor Antonescu in MAN AND BOY at the Arts?  
John Osborne and his generation despised everything Rattigan stood for. Craftsmanship, commercial and middlebrow were stones to throw at him. Along with Coward and Priestley he was dismissed by the critics.  Director Brenda Cottis has had a long love for THE DEEP BLUE SEA and is to be congratulated on continuing Rattigan's reinstatement by staging the play which, although written over 50 years ago, has not dated and is just as relevant to-day.  The audience was held by this study in obsession and the destructive power of love.

Hester Collyer has left her wealthy and talented but dull husband, for Freddie, a young thoughtless ex-RAF pilot neither her moral or intellectual equal.  He is incapable of returning her intensity of love and in despair Hester attempts suicide by turning on the gas fire, but the meter runs out of money and she survives.  The play follows the breakup of the relationship.
The set designed by Tony Broscomb and Lyn Chatterton was a characterless furnished room of beigy-pink decor and red curtains (I did wish that in the first scene the two actresses had worn any colour but red).   Last summer the Props team trawled the auction rooms in search of the vitally important gas fire, and a month before performance they were still searching for a meter that would take a coin; such is the dedication to authenticity.

Mark Bak and Alexandra Fye played the well meaning neighbours; stock characters that came over well.   One particularly felt for Philip Welch's embarrassment at the humiliation he was causing Hester when collecting some of Freddie's clothes at the end of the play.  A delight to see Lyn Chatterton back on stage with her quiet deference and bad feet as Mrs. Elton, the landlady.

Both Colin Lawrence as William Collyer, Hester's husband, and Hugh Mellor as Mr. Miller had great stage presence and showed their concern for Hester without mawkishness.  One felt a slight pity for both characters. Miller had the quiet resignation of the disgraced doctor working as a volunteer in a hospital;  and one could sympathise with William Collyer's restrained puzzlement at his wife's rejection; two competent performances.

Why was Hester attracted to Freddie?   Was it his youthful exuberance, the little boy charm, the frisson of excitement as he spoke of exploits among the clouds?   Steve Read as Freddie looked the part but rather underplayed the role.  I needed a little more light and shade in the lines;  a little more boyishness; a little more outrage at Hester's suicide attempt;  a little more unsteadiness in the drunken scene;  a little more callousness with the shilling for the meter, an action that shows his immaturity.  Instead of the coin being neatly placed on the table could it not have been flung onto the table or flipped across the room to Hester?   Ray Maillou as Jackie Jackson, Freddie's friend, took the part well but tended to gabble the lines, slow down and enunciate more,  we're in no hurry.   Nevertheless, both actors are an asset to BAWDS and with experience could soon have Colin and Hugh looking over their shoulders.

Suzanne Jones as Hester Collyer gave a superb, faultless performance. Her grief at the end of Act II when learning that Freddie is leaving her was heartrending; the final scene touching as Freddie showed that he did have a conscience.   Miller's advice to Hester was 'Go on living'.... and she did, lighting the gas fire and clearing the room of Freddie's clothes as though after a bereavement. Life is good..... life goes on....and, Hester, life is worth living if only for the beautiful swing coat and towering courts of Act II.