One theatre company aim for double success

Katherine Ryan

REVIEW: Katherine Ryan at the Portsmouth Guildhall

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One theatre company are performing a ‘festival within a festival’ with two separate Terence Rattigan plays this summer as they celebrate what would have been his hundredth birthday.

Not only is it the world premier of Rattigan’s Nijinsky, which is based on a television script completed by the playwright in 1974, but the show casing of a classic, The Deep Blue Sea.

Hester Collyer falls obsessively in love with a younger man, Freddie page, who is incapable of returning her love and she leaves her esteemed husband who would do anything to get her back.

Anthony Calf, who has appeared in programmes such as Holby City, New Tricks, and the recent BBC revival of Upstairs Downstairs.

At Chichester Festival Theatre he plays Hester’s husband, William Collyer, and said: ‘It takes place in 1950 in a time of post war financial difficulty. You have to remember the Fifties is before the fantastic emancipation of women in the Sixties.

‘It’s central role is a woman, who under all the circumstances would might be described in Edwardian terms as a good wife, finding her own independence and the difficulties of a woman who is finding her own independence in a society. Her estranged husband is an upright good man who can’t quite work out what his wife wants or needs.

After failing to commit suicide she goes off with a man who she claims to love, who offers her financial stability etc. This man is himself younger and confused about where he fits in society and fought a very brave war in the RAF so she finds this very difficult to take.’

The cast have been rehearsing in London for the past three weeks, but Calf doesn’t believe he is working as much as the rest of the cast.

He added: ‘It’s quite intense. I mean Amanda and I are only doing one play but the rest are doing a second play so for us it’s easier. The others work six days a week and it must be hard hard work.

‘I like the idea of one company doing two plays.

‘Rattigan was written off as old fashioned and Edwardian but in fact, although he writes still seemingly non emotional characters, actually underneath all the dialogue there are seeving and modern passions, and he writes them well.’

However, Calf is familiar with Chichester after performing at the Festival Theatre in 2009, and regularly visits the area.

He concludes: ‘My wives family live about seven miles outside Chichester. I’ve been going there for 20/25 years. It feels like coming home, it’s brilliant.’

Tickets: £14 to £35 Chichester Festival Theatre (01243) 781312 or cft.org.uk.