The torch music Stormy Climate sobs between scenes on this revival of Terence Rattigan’s 1952 drama. Want has shaken the heroine’s world like a tempest: retains raining on a regular basis. We’re in pre-gentrified west London, the place renegade decide’s spouse Hester (Tamsin Greig) has left married respectability to reside with a youthful man, Freddie Web page (Oliver Chris), huge on golf, brief on prospects.

Peter McKintosh designs a room of gloom: peeling wallpaper, pale rugs, gray gentle sighing via the curtains. Even the panorama on the wall reveals Weymouth Pier below washed-out skies. Folks smoke nervy cigs or gulp at nook store claret. Quiet despair lurks within the silences.

The play opens with Hester’s tried suicide – foiled as a result of there wasn’t a shilling within the gasoline meter. Every part appears a humiliation. As an actor, Greig is made for wit, and heightens Hester’s snap, chew and self-deprecation (“on pub crawls I’m a horrible fish out of water”). She greets prurient neighbours with silky fatigue or terrible little chuckles. You register the hassle it takes to keep up some sort of entrance, and the way her face sinks every time she’s alone.

A one-time warfare hero whose world stopped in 1940 … Oliver Chris in The Deep Blue Sea at Theatre Royal Tub. {Photograph}: Manuel Harlan

Lindsay Posner’s considerate manufacturing doesn’t all the time maximise the intimacy, but Rattigan’s play clasps you by the wrist and holds on tight.

Bother speaks to bother: nobody lives with out damage on this play, particularly Finbar Lynch’s fantastically brusque, watchful neighbour. Hester can’t speak actually to Freddie, although she unpacks her coronary heart with hushed candour to her estranged husband (a grave, silky Nicholas Farrell). As Freddie, Chris appears too tall for the shallow room – hugging a whisky bottle, he slumps within the battered armchair like a woozy giraffe. Confronted with Hester’s uncooked want, he’s out of his depth, a one-time warfare hero whose world stopped in 1940.

The Deep Blue Sea doesn’t do interval glamour: it’s frayed shirts, shoe polish, trudging on. Like all of Rattigan’s greatest performs, it traces a really British distress – shamed however stalwart, refusing to be furtive about intercourse and stormy climate.


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