The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings








Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants


New Jersey







Free Updates
Writing for Us
A CurtainUp London London Review
The Deep Blue Sea

When you're between any sort of devil and the deep blue sea, the deep blue sea sometimes looks very inviting.— Hester Collyer
The Deep Blue Sea
Greta Scacchi as Hester Collyer
(Photo: Nobby Clark)
Edward Hall’s production of Terence Rattigan’s 1952 play, filmed in 1955, transfers from the Theatre Royal Bath with its star Greta Scacchi playing the suicidal woman, Hester Collyer. Although it might seem that a 1950s play might have some aspects which seem dated, its theme of unrequited love remains ever pertinent.

Rattigan wrote the play in response to a personal tragedy, the death by suicide of a friend and ex-lover, the actor Ken Morgan. Why is it that everyone except Hester can see the inadequacy of the cad and bounder, the man she has deserted her husband for, Freddie Page (Dugald Bruce-Lockhart)? Or is it that she can see his shortcomings but still is in the grip of passion despite knowing how badly he is treating her?

Hester Collyer (Greta Scacchi) leaves her husband Judge William Collyer (Simon Williams) after falling in love with ex-RAF pilot Freddie Page (Dugald Bruce-Lockhart). She leaves a comfortable and affluent home for the excitement of a torrid romance with Freddie in seedy, rented accommodation in Ladbroke Grove. Ten months later, Freddie forgets her birthday and after staying out when they had planned dinner together, she takes a few pills and tries to gas herself. Her suicide attempt is foiled by not putting any money in the gas meter, and by the efforts of struck-off doctor, Mr Miller (Tim McMullan). Her husband is notified by two of the other tenants and calls round. Judge Collyer is concerned for his wife and forgiving, but the later attempt at reconciliation fails because she is looking for excitement and the nearest he gets to physical passion is to pat her cardigan back in place. Unemployed pilot, Page is busy extricating himself from the complications of the affair by getting a job in South America. Hester has no real means to support herself other than the hope of selling her paintings because married women in the 1950s tended to have no occupation other than housewife.

Greta Scacchi’s Hester has all the repression of a woman with a sensual nature who knows about the shame and desperation of her situation but is unable to prevent it happening. Scacchi has played abandoned women before and looks agonised. We are told that Hester is a clergyman’s daughter from Oxfordshire and in the 1950s divorce was so scandalous that Princess Margaret wasn’t allowed to marry a divorced man even though he was the "innocent" party. Scacchi's Hester is very vulnerable but completely lacking in humour, dragged down by the heavy emotions of her situation. As Page gropes her breasts we feel her desperation for affection from him. Freddie is a lothario, a casanova. When he reads the suicide note all he can think of is his reputation, that he would be blamed for breaking up her happy marriage and branded a murderer. He recounts other women who he has let down. "My God, how I hate getting tangled up in other people’s emotions. " he says. Later when he goes out, he cruelly puts a shilling on the table (for the gas meter) and says to Hester "Just in case I’m late for dinner."

Tim McMullan is very sympathetic as the neighbour who we feel has contemplated or even attempted suicide himself. Simon Williams as the judge cuts a very tall, stiff figure with a cracking voice but is powerless to find the words and gestures to bring his wife home although unusually he is willing to forgive her. I liked too those of the ensemble support like Jacqueline Tong’s landlady who add to the period feel of the production.

Francis O’Connor’s set is a boarding house with peeling wall paper with a partially gauze rear wall so we can see people on the stairs beyond the wall. When Page finds the suicide note there is a lighting shift and eerie music and the sound of the sea against a blue green backdrop as the play’s title is alluded to. In his parting scene, behind the gauze, we see Page momentarily look tearful on the stairs. Edward Hall gives a surprisingly involving production but I found the first act more believable and more satisfying than the second, probably because so little changes and the characters do not develop or progress.

The Deep Blue Sea
Written by Terence Rattigan
Directed by Edward Hall

Starring: Greta Scacchi
With: Jacqueline Tong, Geoff Breton, Rebecca O’Mara, Tim McMullan, Simon Williams, Dugald Bruce-Lockhart, Jack Tarlton
Design: Francis O’Connor
Lighting: Peter Mumford
Sound: Matt McKenzie
Running time: Two hours 25 minutes with one interval
Box Office: 0844 412 4663
Booking to 19th July 2008
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 13th May 2008 performance at The VaudevilleTheatre, The Strand , London WC2 (Rail/Tube: Charing Cross)
Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of The Deep Blue Sea
  • I disagree with the review of The Deep Blue Sea
  • The review made me eager to see the The Deep Blue Sea
Click on the address link E-mail:
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email.

London Theatre Walks

Peter Ackroyd's  History of London: The Biography

London Sketchbook

tales from shakespeare
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
Click image to buy.
Our Review

©Copyright 2008, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from