Posts Tagged ‘David Shelley’

It’s hard to imagine two plays more different than the current pairing at the Finborough. 70’s Glasgow gangsters to 50’s British socialites on the French Riviera! This is the first time in 50 years this Terence Rattigan play has been seen in London. It comes from the period when he was overshadowed by the angry young men (who get an obvious snipe here) and he only wrote three more plays in the following twenty years until he died. It’s flawed but fascinating.

Rose has bought a place on the Riviera where she can gamble and party to her hearts content. She has three husbands behind her, a teenage daughter and a housekeeper who is titled but destitute after a life of gambling! She’s about to marry No. 4, a filthy rich German with a dubious black market background but more than enough money to fund her lifestyle, when she meets British ballet dancer Ron(!) who sweeps her away. She flip-flops between Ron and Kurt for the rest of the play, her health deteriorating, with housekeeper and mother figure Hettie and Ron’s choreographer and father-figure Sam eventually warning her off the dancer.

Based to some extent on Dumas’ La Dame aux Camelias, this is unlike the more restrained and emotionally repressed Rattigan plays that came before it, but prepares the way for the more open ones, like Cause Celebre, that followed. There’s gambling, adultery, hints of homosexuality and a whole load of dysfunctionality that must have been a bit of a shock in 1957. In truth, there’s a bit too much flip-flopping (you find yourself wanting to shout out ‘oh, make your bloody mind up’), it doesn’t sustain it’s length and it lacks subtlety, but it’s well worth this stylish revival.

Rachel Stirling is outstanding as Rose, looking gorgeous in a whole wardrobe of elegant period clothes, Susan Tracy is simply marvellous as the somewhat improbable Hettie and there’s an excellent performance from David Shelley as Sam, who shines in his crucial second act scene with Rose. Fontini Dimou has worked wonders creating a Riviera villa terrace in this space and her costumes are superb.

Can we have French Without Tears now, please?!

Read Full Post »