Fringe Box



Stage Review: The Deep Blue Sea, Mill Studio

Published on: 17 Jun, 2017
Updated on: 17 Jun, 2017

By Tricia Marcotti

I was not familiar with Terence Rattigan’s play The Deep Blue Sea that is playing at the Mill Studio in Guildford until Saturday evening June 17.

Edward Funnell and Gaynor Arnold as William and Hester Collyer in The Deep Blue Sea.

It is a cosy setting for such a play, as it brings the audience into the atmosphere that Rattigan devised for his writing.

The set is reminiscent of the 1950s-era of Rattigan’s play, a slightly rundown flat where all the action takes place. My only criticism is that there was a working clock facing the audience which did not show the correct time for the progress of the play. Costumes provided for the actors were appropriate for the 1950s, as I can remember seeing family photographs from that time which showed the same kind of clothing.

Director Michael Gaunt has schooled his actors very well in the machinations of the play. There was no hesitation from any of them. They all showed appropriate amounts of emotional responses to the lines spoken to them, and spoke with good diction which so many people today do not. I know that is what actors should do, but it is not always so.

I have to commend Gaynor Arnold (playing the part of Hester Collyer), who was seldom off the stage. Her speaking voice at the end of the performance was as good as it was when the play began more than two hours previously. As the play revolved around her and her actions, this was no mean feat.

Edward Funnell (as William Collyer, Hester’s husband) was the epitome of both a rejected man and a high court judge. Slightly pompous, slightly overbearing, even “I told you so-ish”, he also managed to convey his need for her.

Jonathan Blakeley (as Freddy Page, Hester’s lover) gave us a performance as a young man who, like so many young men after the Second World War, could not get on with life in the real world. Flying was all he knew, but his lifestyle was catching up with him. His friend, Jackie Jackson( played by Ralph Pickering), was a character who had managed to make the transition from war to civilian life.

Rowan Stuart (as Mrs Elton, the landlady) reminded me of various landladies from my past. You know the sort, heart of gold covered by a gruff and nosy exterior.

There were three other characters who resided in the flats with Hester and Freddy. Two were a young married couple Philip and Ann Welch, civil servants by trade, played by Ray Murphy and Gwenan Bain. They tried to help Hester, but only succeeded in muddying the waters.

The other person, Mr Miller, played by Andrew Hodson, lived upstairs, was continually called upon by Mrs Elton to do some doctoring. There was a mystery in his past, according to Mrs Elton which meant he did not want to be called doctor. This part required a German accent, which I felt was consistently maintained by Andrew.

The play is as relevant today as it was when it was written, as the audience last night also thought by the amount of handclapping at its conclusion.

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