Review: Talented cast do justice to Rattigan's moving masterpiece The Deep Blue Sea on stage in Kenilworth

Charles Essex reviews The Deep Blue Sea at the Talisman Theatre, Kenilworth

Julie-Ann Randell plays Hester, Phil Spencer her husband and Jack Sargent her lover Freddie
Julie-Ann Randell plays Hester, Phil Spencer her husband and Jack Sargent her lover Freddie

The Talisman goes from strength to strength with another formidable production.

In Terrence Rattigan’s drama about the overwhelming power of infatuation, Julie-Ann Rendell, who was stunning in the one-woman performance of Shirley Valentine, yet again shows great depth as Hester, the vicar’s daughter who married a man she didn’t love and left him for a totally unsuitable lover.

Phil Spencer was the strait-laced judge trying to entice his wife back and understand where the marriage had gone wrong.

Neither Hester nor Freddie (Jack Sargent), a Battle of Britain ace, can break free from their mutual obsession. The very things that fired up Freddie in 1940 are the seeds of his destruction as an alcoholic out-of-work pilot. Freddie and Hester recognise that they are death to each other.

The script shows Rattigan’s superb powers of observation and expression as the characters attract, repel, frustrate and yet cannot let each other go. Anyone who has been in a situation of unrequited love or obsessive attraction cannot fail to be moved by this play.

All the men, apart from Mr Miller who had been interned on the Isle of Man as a German citizen, are wonderfully portrayed as emotionally bonsai, with cut glass accents, products of the English public school system.

The authentic set, created by John Ellam, recreated the seedy boarding houses of the late 1940s. There was not a weak performance amongst any of the actors and The Talisman deserves a full house for this production.

Rattigan’s work warrants more exposure after being eclipsed for so long by the likes of Osborne and Pinter.

* The Deep Blue Sea runs until Saturday, February 12. Visit talismantheatre.co.uk or call 01926 856548 to book or for more information.