Terence Rattigan’s comedy While the Sun Shines is set to be staged at the Theatre Royal Bath from Wednesday 13th to Saturday 30th July, directed by Christopher Luscombe (2016 Olivier Award-winner Nell Gwynn). The cast includes Michael Cochrane (The Archers, Downton Abbey, The Iron Lady), Tamla Kari (The Musketeers, Cuckoo, The Inbetweeners), Rob Heaps (Home Fires, And Then There Were None), Rupert Young (Merlin) and Alexandra Dowling (The Musketeers, Game of Thrones).
On the eve of his marriage to the beautiful Lady Elizabeth Randall, the Earl of Harpenden makes the mistake of allowing a drunken American Lieutenant to spend the night in his Albany apartment. Things start to go awry the following morning when the Earl arranges a little female company for his charming and mischievous guest in the form of Mabel Crum, a former girlfriend with a penchant for Americans…but it is his fiancée, Lady Elizabeth, who turns up at the flat!
Add into the mix Colbert, a young French officer who also fancies his chances with Elizabeth, and her garrulous father, an inveterate gambler, and the stage is set for hilarious confusion. In this flurry of crossed-wires and mistaken identities Rattigan shows himself to be a master farceur.
While the Sun Shines ran for over one thousand performances in the West End in the early 1940s, before transferring to Broadway. The leading critic of the day, James Agate, described it as “delightful, a little masterpiece of tingling impertinence”. The play was made into a film in 1947 directed by Anthony Asquith and starring Joyce Grenfell, Margaret Rutherford and Ronald Squire.
Michael Cochrane plays Lady Elizabeth’s father, The Duke of Ayr and Stirling. Well known on BBC Radio 4 for his role as Oliver Sterling in The Archers since 2000; Michael’s television career, spanning five decades, has seen him appear in countless favourite series since the 1970s. Most recently, he played Reverend Travis in three series of Downton Abbey, and appeared in Cradle to Grave, Man Down, Doctors, Vicious and New Tricks. Last decade, he was seen in Murphy’s Law, Jonathan Creek, A Touch of Frost, Heartbeat and Criminal Justice. Prior to this, his credits have included, in the 1990s, The Ruth Rendell Mysteries, The Chief, No Job for a Lady, Taggart and The Darling Buds of May; in the 1980s, Doctor Who, The Detective, The Citadel and King’s Royal; and in the 1970s, The Pallisers and Wings. His film work includes The Iron Lady, Margaret, The Saint and Escape to Victory. On stage, he has performed extensively with London’s Tricycle Theatre, on tour and in the West End. His previous visits to the Theatre Royal Bath include Beyond a Joke in 2000, On Approval in 1992, Married Love in 1988 and Pride and Prejudice in 1987.
Tamla Kari plays the role of Mabel Crum. On television, she is well known for her role as Constance Bonacieux in the first three series of The Musketeers, as well as playing Rachel in the popular BBC comedy series Cuckoo, and Lucy in The Inbetweeners films. Her stage credits include Versailles at the Donmar Warehouse, This Is Living at Trafalgar Studios, and Saturday Night and Sunday Morning at Manchester’s Royal Exchange.
The Earl of Harpenden is played by Rob Heaps, whose theatre credits include Pride and Prejudice at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, King Lear at Chichester Festival Theatre, and South Downs and Rattigan’s The Browning Version in the West End. He played AC Tom Halliwell in ITV’s Home Fires earlier this year, and Hugo in BBC1’s major Christmas drama, And Then There Were None, in 2015.
Nicholas Bishop appears as Lieutenant Colbert. Last year, he performed in both Simon Godwin’s Man and Superman with Ralph Fiennes and Patrick Marber’s new play Three Days in the Country at the National Theatre. His stage work also includes the National Theatre’s international sensation War Horse, The Country Wife at Manchester’s Royal Exchange, and The Railway Children at Waterloo Station. His television credits include Cranford, Hustle and E4’s comedy Grifters.
Lady Elizabeth Randall is played by Alexandra Dowling, who appeared as Queen Anne in the first three series of BBC1’s The Musketeers. She also played Roslin Frey in Game of Thrones, and has appeared on our screens in Merlin and Agatha Christie’s Poirot. She recently performed in I Have Been Here Before and The Last of the De Mullins at London’s Jermyn Street Theatre.
Rupert Young appears as Lieutenant Mulvaney. On television, he played the role of Sir Leon in the BBC1 series Merlin for four years. His screen credits also include Doc Martin, Shameless, Foyle’s War, The White Queen and Doctor Who. His theatre credits include Much Ado About Nothing at Shakespeare’s Globe; Afterlife and Never So Good at the National Theatre; Rattigan’s French without Tears for the National Theatre; and High Society at London’s Old Vic.
Jonathan Dryden Taylor plays the role of Horton. His many credits at the National Theatre include As You Like It and Our Country’s Good. His stage work also includes Travels with My Aunt at Chichester Festival Theatre, Journey’s End at the Watermill Theatre, and numerous performances at Pitlochry Festival Theatre. Jonathan has also written extensively for television and radio including The Mitchell and Webb Sound/Look, 10 Things I Hate About, and The Golden Rules of TV.
Award-winning playwright Terence Rattigan wrote some of the greatest plays in British drama. During his life-time, he completed 25 full length stage plays, as well as numerous one-act plays, radio, television and film scripts. Some of his best-loved works include The Winslow Boy, The Browning Version, The Deep Blue Sea, Separate Tables, Harlequinade, Man and Boy, French without Tears and Flare Path. He was knighted in 1971 for services to the theatre, being only the fourth playwright to receive the accolade in the twentieth century. Today, nearly 40 years after his death, his plays are still performed all over the world.
Director Christopher Luscombe’s production of Nell Gwynn for Shakespeare’s Globe, transferred to the West End earlier this year and won the 2016 Olivier Award for Best New Comedy. He began his career as an actor, performing with the RSC, the National Theatre and in the West End. While the Sun Shines will be the eighteenth production Christopher has directed at the Theatre Royal; the first being The Shakespeare Revue in 1996 – a show, which he also co-devised, and is set to return to Bath this September. His hugely successful touring production of Alan Bennett’s The History Boys played Bath in both 2010 and 2011. His staging of Bennett’s Enjoy opened in Bath in 2008, before transferring to the West End and returning to the Theatre Royal in 2010 on tour. His 2012 production of The Madness of George III opened in Bath and transferred to the West End. His earlier productions of Bennett’s Single Spies and The Lady in the Van also played Bath. Christopher Luscombe has also directed many productions for Shakespeare’s Globe and his numerous West End productions include Spamalot; Fascinating Aïda – One Last Flutter (Olivier Award nomination); When We Are Married (Olivier Award nomination) and The Rocky Horror Show (which returns to Bath this November). His RSC productions of Love’s Labour’s Lost and Much Ado About Nothing, first seen at Stratford-upon-Avon in 2014, have been screened in cinemas worldwide and released on DVD. They transfer to the West End this Christmas following an autumn run at Chichester Festival Theatre.
While the Sun Shines appears at the Theatre Royal Bath from Wednesday 13th to Saturday 30th July. Tickets are available from the Theatre Royal Bath Box Office on 01225 448844 or online at www.theatreroyal.org.uk
Photo credit: Tristram Kenton