In Praise Of Love – June 2006

Experience: 10/10

By Terence Rattigan

Directed by Philip Wilson

Venue: Minerva Theatre

Date: Tuesday 27th June 2006

This was a superb production of a masterful play. Rattigan at his best. Four characters, three scenes/acts, one set, tightly scripted and brilliantly performed. A great evening.

It took me a while to get Suzanne Burden’s accent for Lydia – Estonian – but once I’d tuned in I was amazed at how well she carried it through all the emotional ups and downs the character goes through. I lost some other of the lines in the early stages, but not enough to give me any problems. How to relate my impressions of this play in detail without churning through the whole story? I reckon this is one play and performance that will live long in my memory, but no harm in giving it a helping hand.

The key for me was Michael Thomas’s performance as Sebastian. He was willing to play the appearance of a real bastard, and never mind the audience’s sympathy. Initially he seems uncaring towards his wife, Lydia, telling her not to bore people with her refugee stories, being completely absent-minded about what she’s doing, and expecting her to fetch and carry all the time, fixing this and that – a real chauvinist pig. He even forgets to turn up for a very important occasion for his son – the first TV screening of his first play, and has been carrying on an affair with another woman for some time. However, there are one or two clues, especially his response to his wife’s near-collapse at the end of the first act, rushing to support her up the stairs to bed. Turns out they’re both lying to each other, for the best possible reason – to protect the other from the horrible truth. Only a friend, Mark, who’s been in love with and loved by Lydia for over twenty years, can be told the truth, by both of them, although we don’t hear Sebastian’s version till the final act.

Surprisingly, after this description, there was a lot of humour in this play. I don’t know what else to add. Words fail me. Just go and see it again if you can.

© 2006 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me

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