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Flare Path

Birmingham Rep

****

 JUSTIN Audibert’s production of Terence Rattigan’s 1941 play is a picture of history.

Rattigan’s script and Audibert’s vision bring the sentiment of relationships and war together. Flare Path was first written and performed during World War II where audiences would only be too used to the setting and era.

Today as an audience in a new century, we are able to learn about the essence of war, amongst Rattigan’s consuming imagery and interesting characters.

The play is set in the reception room of a hotel near an RAF bomber base and its residents are pilots and their wives. Hayley Grindle’s set is immensely detailed, transporting us instantly to the war time era.

The male characters give an overall sense of the hardships of working directly with war and through the ladies; we see a wonderful emotional approach to the stoic, yet uncertain attitude of everyone. Of course, Rattigan includes a dash of 1940’s glamour which adds to a nostalgic feeling of looking back in time.

Flight Lieutenant Graham, or Teddy, and actress Patricia Warren are a married couple, residing in the hotel near base where Teddy must be on call at all times. With a strong and steady marriage for a year, Teddy could not be happier. When actor Peter Kyle shows up unexpectedly, Patricia feels that circumstances could not be worse. Patricia has worked with Peter Kyle before and their elusive past is still very much present - the only people to know about their secret love affair are the audience.

Love and war is certainly a delectable theme for the audience, but Rattigan uses dramatic irony in an exceedingly tasteful way that instantly draws the audience into the story. His themes are universal in that we love to see the conflict of emotion and the consequences are there to see in the precarious love triangle.

The excellent cast capture the 1940’s essence on stage. The loveable Teddy is possibly the highlight of the show and is played beautifully by Daniel Fraser. At first we see a bumbling and perhaps naïve pilot, but after surviving a raid he was commanded to fulfil, Fraser captures the raw and very human emotions of a Flight Lieutenant.

Fraser shows and says the things that go unsaid and allows the audience to see the fragility of war through his open portrayal in a tender moment of explaining to his wife his frightened state while flying.

Patricia, dressed in a beautiful costume, is played by the outstanding Hedydd Dylan. Through her performance we see the universal emotion found in any era. It was a wonderful portrayed of the  struggle of keeping her secret leaving the audience desperate to see the outcome of her past and present actions.

The husband and wife duo are terrific on stage and their interaction makes for engaging viewing with Lynden Edwards’ performance as the Hollywood actor Peter Kyle helping  the audience to hang on to each scene.

Edwards is brilliant in the role of the glamourous actor and has a persona to fit each character that he interacts with. He beautifully fills the role of the outsider arriving at the hotel and the audience cannot help but feel sorry for his character at the end of the play.

Rattigan’s text shows the effects of war in a tale of love and commitment. Doris and Maudie are also the wives of pilot’s with all women connected by their husbands going to war. Their strong universal hope is uplifting, but when Doris’ husband, Count Skriczevinsky, played by the comical William Reay, does not come back, we see the reality strike, which perhaps leads us to think of those fighting today.

Maudie is played by Pollie Hughes while Claire Andreadis approaches Doris with a playful charm and brightness that only hits harder when her husband does not arrive with the rest of the men.

Rattigan’s play is thick with human emotion against the backdrop of an event that changed the world. His glimpse into the small setting of the RAF base hotel shows too well the realities that people face every day. Rattigan shines a light on the sacrifices that are made as the cost of war in a beautifully relatable story. To 30-04-16.

Elizabeth Halpin

25-04-16 

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