Flare Path Tour | Review
A new tour of Terence Rattigan’s esteemed play Flare Path opened last night at the Connaught Theatre in Worthing where it runs until Saturday 30th January 2016, before embarking on a nationwide tour.
The play is set during World War II in a Lincolnshire Hotel situated near to an RAF airbase. The Falcon Hotel is run by the formidable Mrs Oakes ( Audrey Palmer) and it is here where the active servicemen take their leave, occasionally meet up with their wives and try to relax whilst off-duty, never knowing what is round the corner and what the next few hours will bring.
Enter Hollywood heart throb Peter Kyle (Lynden Edwards), he is in pursuit of his ex-lover Patricia Warren (Hedydd Dylan) who has, since their affair married serviceman and all round good-guy Teddy Graham (Daniel Fraser). Patricia is still in love with Kyle and she plans to leave her husband but before she can, the men get called out on another night-time operation and the world of the hotel guests is upside down yet again.
Although the love triangle is at the centre of the play, this is a dramatic ensemble piece where every character has a story and an important role to play. The servicemen and their wives are all from different backgrounds and deal with the stresses of war in very different ways.
The play not only focuses on the servicemen’s experiences, but also on those left behind worrying about their fate.
Flare Path is an excellent portrayal of the surreal life in war-time Britain. Rattigan’s writing is superb, and has a harsh reality born from his own war-time experiences as a tail-gunner and wireless operator. At the time of writing in 1942 the outcome of the war was unknown and this gives Flare Path an extraordinarily poignant edge as Rattigan makes no assumptions about his or his characters futures.
At a post show questions and answer session, director Justin Audibert told the story of how the first draft of ‘Flare Path’ was almost lost when an engine failed on a plane that Rattigan was onboard, as they started bailing things out to lighten the plane luckily Rattigan at the last moment, kept the manuscript safe.
A special nod must go to Alex Wardle’s lighting design and Dominic Bilkey’s sound design. The effect of the air-raids during the blackout scenes were particularly good enhanced by the descriptions made by Squadron Leader Swanson (Graham Seed) and Doris (Claire Andreadis) as they watched in mixed horror and delight through the window as the planes take off on a raid guided the Flare Path (lights lit during a blackout to temporarily outline a runway).
The Original Theatre Company and Birdsong Productions has created another well crafted and executed play and the audience at the Connaught Theatre were engrossed from start to finish. There were plenty of stories after the show about how the play had affected them and evoked memories of their loved ones talking about the war.
Flare Path gives a fascinating insight to Wartime Britain and how it affected ordinary lives. It continues at the Connaught Theatre in Worthing until Saturday 30th January and then continues on it’s nationwide tour.
Reviewer : Sammi O’Neill
☆☆☆ – Recommended! Catch it at a town near you!
Interview with Charlie G Hawkins who plays hotel barman Percy who dreams of going to war here.