Jane B (knally) wrote,
Jane B

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Happy fluke

As a birthday present to myself, I've just booked a ticket for a performance of "Flare Path" by Terence Rattigan at the Theater Royal, Haymarket. I was a great fan of Rattigan when I was young, and actually read his complete works - some 20 plays! His first stage success was "French Without Tears" which contains my favourite piece of French translation ever, where "She has ideas above her station" became "Elle a des idées au-dessus de sa gare.". He's best known for "Separate Tables", "The Winslow Boy" and "The Browning Version", but my favourite of his plays was the rarely performed "Flare Path". And when I say rarely, it's not been in the West End since 1942.
I've got out of the habit of following what's on in the theatre so it was just by luck that I happened to be channel-surfing this week and switched to "The One Show" for the moment when they started talking about it being the centenary of his birth, and that several productions of his plays would be in the theatre this year, starting with "Flare Path". So working on the principle that it might be another 60 years before it's revived again, I jumped at the chance to see it.

Looking about a bit on the web, I see he fell out of favour in a similar way to Noel Coward after "Look Back in Anger" was staged in 1956, and the fashion for kitchen sink drama took over from the more restrained passions of the pre-war playwrights, which came across as passionless compared to the fierceness of the new plays. He was also self-deprecating about his own writing, as indicated by this description of the kind of people who liked his plays:
He made a particular rod for his own credibility by being so open about the audience he felt he needed to serve with his immaculately well-crafted entertainments, which he memorably encapsulated in the conservative figure of “Aunt Edna”, a “respectable, middle-class, middle-aged, maiden lady”.
Of course, that's me to a T, which makes me think I must have been a very staid teenager :-)
Tags: futurevent

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