In Praise of Love – Terrence Rattigan

Next Stage Theatre Company

Mission Theatre

 

Next Stage Theatre Company and their trade mark high standards bring this slightly lesser known Rattigan piece to The Mission this week. The play is loosely inspired by the true-life relationship between the Actor Rex Harrison and his actress wife Kay Kendall. In the mid 1950’s she was diagnosed with a terminal illness and Harrison tried to hide this from her whilst nursing her until her death. Here, Rattigan transforms the characters into Lydia and Sebastian Cruttwell. He is a left – wing egotistical literary critic whist she is an Estonian refugee; each trying to protect the other from the painful truth.

Despite a rather slow start this is a gem of a play examining relationships under pressure and the British inability to express emotions alongside the wish to avoid confrontation.

Performances are strong and convincing, Bob Constantine (Sebastian Cruttwell) captures the arrogance and brutality of the Marxist critic whilst Caroline Groom (Lydia Cruttwell) shows great wit, perseverance and love above all other costs. The play takes off with the arrival of the excellent Richard Matthews (Mark Walters) and Chris Constantine (Joey Cruttwell) who bring different cultural and generational views on the matter.

Directed by Ann Ellison this is a fine examination of a difficult dilemma. The gradual revelations of truths and their various layers are well handled without sentiment or drama.

A rarely performed piece but another good example of how versatile the company are; the play runs until Saturday and is well worth a visit.
  

Petra Schofield