DramaReviewSouth East

Flare Path – Orchard Theatre, Dartford

Writer: Terence Rattigan
Director: Justin Audibert
Reviewer: Dan English


It is a love triangle amidthe bombing raids of World War Two as the frustrating Flare Path reaches Dartford’s Orchard Theatre.

Terence Rattigan’s script sees husband and wife Teddy (Daniel Fraser) and Patricia (Hedydd Dylan) stay at the Falcon Hotel where they are joined by Hollywood actor Peter Kyle (Lynden Edwards), who, unbeknownst to Teddy, Patricia had previously been in a relationship with. The production, directed by Justin Audibert, contrasts the turmoils of the love triangle with the tribulations of wartime Britain, highlighting the stresses marriages went through when one-half was actively representing their country.

Daniel Fraser’s Teddy is a Flight Lieutenant, who balances to huge expectation upon his shoulders with his crippling self-doubt and fear that comes to a head in the second half of this show. Fraser does well to create a character as instantly likeable as Teddy, although Teddy’s likeability does become somewhat nauseating at points. The script is not particularly kind to Teddy, leaving little time to develop his character, but Fraser does execute the tender scenes with Patricia well and there is a genuine moment of tenderness between the couple which is a highlight.

In Patricia, Hedydd Dylan has a task on her hands portraying the character torn between the two lovers in this production. Dylan does well to execute the passion that her character shows for Peter at the beginning of this show, which makes it all the more confusing why this passion suddenly disappears much later in the play, through no fault of Dylan but the script. Dylan admirably does show the tenderness to her character, particularly when caring to her stricken husband after his bombing raids and there is a moment of real connection between her and her husband, but the character is written in such a two-dimensional way that Patricia is a character seriously limited in how she can be performed.

Lyndon Edwards’ Peter Kyle is the brash, arrogant and at times charming Hollywood actor who swans into the Falcon Hotel to win back his love Patricia. This contrast between his brash arrogance and utter charm makes the character the most confusing to understand in this entire show and although Edwards does portray all of these emotions in an expert manner, it is impossible to work out whether to like or hate the character. Rattigan creates a character in Peter Kyle who seems destined to blow this neatly set out hotel apart with his wild desire for Patricia, but he never does and it is perhaps the most infuriating aspect of this two and a half hour production.

One redeeming factor of Rattigan’s script is Clarie Andreadis’ Countess Skriczevinsky, who, despite not being part of the main plot love triangle, is the only character with any substance. Andreadis is excellent in her portrayal of a young woman who has married upwards to the Flying Officer Count (William Reay), bringing real warmth to her performance. In a production dearth of any real emotion, there are two genuinely heartbreaking and heartwarming moments in this production, both of which are a result of Andreadis’ superb delivery. Her involvement in the well crafted final action of Act 1, in which a bombing raid takes place, does show believable emotion of a woman seeing her husband go off to war, perhaps for the last time.

Hayley Grindle’s set is a simple hotel lounge that is spacious enough to allow the performers to act comfortably, yet snug enough to resemble a small Residents’ Lounge of the hotel. Grindle’s designed encapsulates Wartime Britain with its decoration with it also using an ingenious fire prop that is effective throughout. The set is also flanked by scrap metal from downed warplanes which is a nice touch, integrating the domestic hotel setting with the barbaric destruction of war.

Despite the determined performances of the whole cast, who endeavour to put together a solid production, this play struggles with its tired script that no director nor cast can overcome. There’s a stagnant element to this production with it struggling for pace throughout but the most frustrating element is the lack of depth to this script. It is a play that, in the plot, stretches across 24 hours, but achieves very little in actual storytelling.

The production, however, does have its moments and the cast should be commended on their delivery of this script, meaning that some charm remains, particularly the execution of the bombing raid scene to end Act 1 and the depiction of the Countess. However, while Flare Path has some warmth in its showcasing of another wartime love story across its two and a half hour slog and despite the cast’s efforts, this warmth is extinguished an infuriating and underdeveloped script.


Runs until 9 April 2016 | Image: Jack Ladenburg

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