The Scottish Mail on Sunday

Tamsin’s gift for comedy lifts a tale of doomed love


The Deep Blue Sea Ustinov Studio, Bath

Until Saturday, 2hrs 30mins


People, Places And Things

Trafalgar Theatre, London Until August 10, 2hrs 20mins


Terence Rattigan was the great anatomist of the human heart. His 1952 tragedy The Deep Blue Sea is about Hester, the estranged wife of a high-court judge who has moved in to a bedsit to have an affair with a dim but dashing former fighter pilot, one of Churchill’s Few.

The original pilot was played by Kenneth More, the chipper screen star, who gunned down the A40 every night in his sports car, golf clubs in the boot, parking outside the stage door. He had no idea he was in a masterpiec­e.

The set for this is a peeling bedsit with a shilling meter (it runs out, foiling Hester’s suicide attempt), directed with a relish for the period by Lindsay Posner. That most humane actress, Tamsin Greig, plays Hester, addicted to the flyer Freddie, who is hopelessly adrift in peacetime and drinking hard. (Rattigan had been a tail-gunner in the war and knew the type all too well.)

Oliver Chris effortless­ly handles Freddie’s RAF banter (‘knocked me ruddy flat!’) and his war-damaged lack of empathy.

Greig’s gift for comedy is a bonus here, as her desperate, unrequited love plays out. It’s a smashing cast. Nicholas Farrell is pitch perfect as her decent but uncomprehe­nding husband, while

Finbar Lynch is the mysterious, healing neighbour and Felicity Montagu the chatterbox landlady.

In an age where everyone blathers on about their mental health, this prime English example of inner passion and private suffering makes for wonderful theatre.

In People, Places And Things, Denise Gough reprises her tottering, towering, sweary performanc­e as an actress who ends up in rehab. Gough was stunning in 2015 and she still is in this punchy revival.

Instantly, her character Emma loathes the 12-step programme. But there’s no alternativ­e. As the therapy works, Gough lets rip in full foul-mouthed truth-telling mode, a Niagara of fury, selfabasem­ent and jokes.

The play, written by Duncan Macmillan, peels back her every last defence. The rehab scenes go on too long and it often feels like a one-woman show. But in fact it’s a large cast: Sinead Cusack doubles up as the lead therapist and Emma’s cold mum, Kevin McMonagle plays her father and Malachi Kirby a fellow addict.

God, what a nightmare addiction is! This harrowing play reaches places other shows can’t.

 ?? ?? INNER PASSION: Tamsin Greig and Finbar Lynch in The Deep Blue Sea
INNER PASSION: Tamsin Greig and Finbar Lynch in The Deep Blue Sea

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