Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

jayne and chris

Christopher Scott as William Collyer and Jayne Lunn as Hester Collyer

The deep blue sea

Sutton Arts Theatre


Practically every theatre company in the world probably, has faced huge challenges during the Covid years. Non professional theatre has suffered the most, being self funded and reliant on the commitment of personal time from enthusiastic players who hold on to a true love of theatre.

If overcoming those challenges were not enough then taking on the might and depth of a Terrence Rattigan play might seem a step too far.  

The Deep Blue Sea is regarded as one of Terence Rattigan’s most accomplished works. Its singular theme is the destruction and havoc that a passionate love affair can bring to the lives it affects and not always in a positive or happy way.

Set in 1952 it focuses on a married woman, Hester Collyer, who has left behind not only her formal judge of a husband Sir William Collyer, but also his wealth and social position, for a gambling, hard drinking, ex-airforce pilot, Freddie Page and a rundown London apartment. The depth of her emotion for him and his lack of commitment to her, leads her to an attempted suicide which is where the play begins.

Rescued from her fate by the neighbours, she is revived by one of them, a struck off doctor, Miller. Miller uses his occasional and detached life philosophy to rationalise the tight web of tension between all involved, giving the broken Hester the only glimmer of hope for her future life.

Jayne Lunn takes on the formidable task of the emotionally charged Hester and did an outstanding job at measuring Rattigan’s fiery exchanges with her lovers and the sadness of her despair. Hester is consumed by her love and the constant tension needed to deliver a real portrayal of woman in meltdown was met with an unflinchingly dedicated performance by Miss Lunn.


Christopher Commander as Freddie Page

Christopher Commander seems perfectly named for the role of a military character as the ex-pilot and Hester’s love interest Freddie. Rattigan’s own experiences are embedded in the character as he was once himself a rear gunner in the RAF during the war.

Freddie is drifting in his own life, now that his exciting war years are behind him. Mr Commander did a superb job on all counts and at finally reflecting on his regret over his casual commitment to Hester and his sense of loss when he eventually leaves her.

Not to be outdone in the performance stakes is Christopher Scott as Collyer, Hester’s doting, estranged husband. Rattigan uses Collyer as a contrast for a societal and companionship style of devotion to Freddie’s physical and daring passion. His exchanges with Hester were both heartfelt and genuine. Collyer offers her the final chance to return to the safe place of their marriage but Hester has other ideas in mind.   

Richard Millward did a fine job as Jackie, the supportive old RAF buddy and ear to Freddie’s complaints, adding an air of common sense that Freddie refuses to acknowledge. The mysterious doctor is played by Andrew Tomlinson peppering the scenes with his anecdotes with Valerie Thomlinson as Mrs Elton the ever supportive landlady. Excellent acting support also came in the form of Tom Cooper and Katie Johnson as Philip and Anne, the young married neighbours, who discover Hester’s first failed suicide attempt.

Director Faye Hatch has done a great job in holding back the horses and making sense of what is clearly an intense ride. The Deep Blue Sea packs so much into its running time, its tragically sad, occasionally amusing, but it is eternal in portraying the intensity and mental toll relationships can impact upon anyone.

After the straitjacket of these past Covid years, the struggle to make sense of our lives and relationships remain as intense as ever. The ability to rise to the challenges of those either on a personal, or performance level or as theatre company, have been faced and clearly met here and makes it a production well worth seeing. The sea will be in sight to 05-03-22. 

Jeff Grant


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