Ask Audrey Ask Audrey
Archived

The Deep Blue Sea

"Rattigan’s text remains anchored to its era"

Audrey review: Marta Dusseldorp shines in a production that sends you home satisfied, if not completely convinced that The Deep Blue Sea's reputation as a masterpiece is deserved.

Text size
Text size
Add to favourites

The Deep Blue Sea

Date: 10 Feb 2020

Directed by Paige Rattray, this Sydney Theatre Company production of Terence Rattigan’s turbulent post-war drama begins in something like a dream: with a woman lying on the floor in a deep blue space, her face turned upstage.

It is as if she has drifted peacefully to the bottom of an ocean.

The reverie is broken within seconds as cast and crew manhandle walls, doors and windows into the space. The woman is enclosed.

We see now that the woman is prone in front of an unlit gas heater in dingy flat in Ladbroke Grove, London.

Alerted by the smell of gas, neighbours and landlady rouse the woman from slumbers that would have been had she not forgotten to put a shilling in the gas meter. It’s just the first in a series of tragicomic twists Rattigan imparts during the evening.

The woman is Hester Collyer (played here by Marta Dusseldorp), and this is the home she shares with her lover, Freddie Page (Fayssal Bazzi), the former RAF and test pilot with whom she fell in love and left a staid marriage for.

But the passion that characterised Hester and Freddie’s courtship is burned out now. Freddie is hitting the bottle when he’s not whacking golf balls at the same club they met. Unable to come to terms with his own predicament, Freddie can’t give Hester what she needs. Worse still, he knows it.

I can’t think of a more suitable actor than Dusseldorp to play Hester. Few are able to so convincingly convey desperation and elegance at the same time.

Rattigan’s wry humour is in safe hands here, too, especially when Hester is fobbing off her neighbours (played by Brandon McClelland and Contessa Treffone) and blabbermouth landlady Mrs Elton (Vanessa Downing), who, in true British style, are abuzz with the schadenfreude derived from seeing one’s social “betters” come to grief.

Bazzi sweeps away all the Spitfire pilot clichés immediately with a big, passionate performance. And while Matt Day doesn’t convey much in the way of judicial gravitas as Hester’s ex-husband (and High Court judge) Sir William, his reserved portrayal provides an effective counterpoint.

Paul Capsis proves a fascinating choice for the role of Miller, the struck-off doctor who administers on the sly while working as a bookie’s runner. The role is coded queer (as is the whole play; it is widely regarded to be inspired by a tragic incident in Rattigan’s own love life) but here Capsis plays it openly so in a performance that brings an almost otherworldly aspect to Miller’s character.

Rattray has de-Anglicised the script to some extent but Rattigan’s text remains anchored to its era. Laughter ripples at odd times because of it.

The production comes together more forcefully after interval, in two strong scenes between Hester and the men in her life and in an encounter with Miller, who helps her identify the flickering flame of her true self, which Rattray amplifies into a gently optimistic final image that sends you home satisfied, if not completely convinced that The Deep Blue Sea deserves its “masterpiece” status.

Content
Family Values
Add to favourites
ArchivedRiverside Theatres, Parramatta, Sydney 18 - 21 Mar 2020

Family Values

Audrey review: David Williamson's combustible cocktail of viewpoints on the Australian government’s refugee and asylum policy is the angriest play he's written in years.

Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam
Add to favourites
ArchivedIPAC, Wollongong, NSW 10 - 15 Mar 2020

Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam

Audrey review: Briskly affectionate treatment of Peter Goldsworthy's powerful story denies us the full impact of a momentous decision.

No Pay? No Way!
Add to favourites
ArchivedStreaming 28 May - 4 Jun 2020

No Pay? No Way!

Audrey review: Featuring stellar comic talents, this production of Dario Fo's satirical farce is among the funniest shows Sydney Theatre Company has put to the stage in years.

See More

More to see

View All
A Chorus Line
Add to favourites
ArchivedEternity Playhouse, Darlinghurst, Sydney 13 Mar - 19 Apr 2020

A Chorus Line

A Chorus Line offers an intimate examination of the raw materials of showbiz – the bodies, hopes and dream of people trying to make it on Broadway. 

The Bridges of Madison County
Add to favourites
ArchivedHayes Theatre, Potts Point, Sydney 5 Mar - 6 Apr 2020

The Bridges of Madison County

Based on Robert James Waller's novel, a musical about the roads we travel, the doors we open and the bridges we dare to cross.

Games
Add to favourites
ArchivedUtzon Room, Sydney Opera House 5 - 8 Apr 2020

Games

A story of the 1936 Olympic Games, inspired by the true stories of two world-class Jewish athletes and the racial prejudice they suffered under the Nazi regime.

Me and My Mother, Singing
Add to favourites
ArchivedThe Studio, Sydney Opera House 21 - 22 Mar 2020

Me and My Mother, Singing

Oleg Pupovac presents a funny and tender one-man show that uses storytelling, poetry, multimedia and performance to tell a trilingual story.

Top