Writer: Terence Rattigan
Director: Justin Audibert
Reviewer: Bill Avenell
In this world of convoluted plots and psychological undertones, it is refreshing to come across a straight forward and relatively simple story, an “epic wartime romance” according to Yvonne Arnaud’s publicity, which doesn’t require a huge amount of mental energy to follow.
Whether this production or this play is truly epic is open to question but the Original Theatre Company’s performance of Terence Rattigan’s piece, written on the back of his own experiences in the RAF in the last war, provides a thoroughly entertaining evening’s theatre. All you have to do is sit back and watch a strong cast performing Rattigan’s well-constructed play without having to worry too much about whether you are missing anything significant. Yes, there are nuances of class, and immigration, yes, there are a few twists along the way, yes, there are moments of suspense but none of it is too taxing. A bit dated perhaps but not for the audience at Guildford who give it a good reception.
The tale is straightforward once you realise that it is not chance that has brought slightly fading Hollywood star Peter Kyle, played by Leon Ockenden, to the airbase town of Milchester during the bombing raids of Germany, but a desire to meet his lover, small part actress Patricia Warren played by Olivia Hallinan, and exhort her to leave her bomber captain husband Lieutenant ‘Teddy’ Graham played by Alastair Whatley. This love triangle is complicated by the ensuing unexpected raid with its ‘will they won’t they return’ theme and the sub-plot of the relationship of the ex-barmaid Doris played by Siobhan O’Kelly and the Polish flyer Count Skriczevinsky played by Adam Best. All the cast do it justice. Ockenden is convincing if perhaps not quite charming enough, Warren is certainly ‘actressy’ enough and Whatley is very strong indeed as the self-deprecating flyer confronting his demons. They are supported by a bit of a cameo from Philip Franks as chummy Squadron Leader Swanson, an amusing turn from Best as the polish count speaking garbled English and a really strong portrayal by Siobhan O’ Kelly of Doris, his wife, who combines a splendid mixture of vulnerability and bull dog spirit in her performance. Moreover, it is hard to fault any of the supporting cast.
It could get bogged down in sentimentality, but Director Justin Audibert manages to keep it moving at a brisk pace and is aided by a good set from Hayley Grindle, very evocative of the time, some good sound effects from Dominic Bilkey with the airfield seemingly next door and an ingenious lighting plot from Alex Wardle to create the blackout effect.
So it is not exactly a comfortable evening’s watching but it sends you out into the car park with a feeling of having seen a good solid performance. And, whatever you do, make sure you don’t miss that Flight Path itself.
Runs until 28 November 2015 |Image:Jack-Ladenburg