THE DEEP BLUE SEA
Chelmsford Theatre Workshop at the Old Court
Rattigan's well-made play is very much of its time, and Nick Gulvin wisely went for period feel in the set and the costumes.
The genteel poverty of Hester's flat was caught exactly; the corridor and the bedroom narrowed the stage to a claustrophobic prison. The dresses, even the lingerie, were authentic; Ruth Cramphorn, as Ann, looked absolutely Fifties – frock, make-up, deportment all spot on.
The play is dated now, but the central role still provides a marvellous opportunity for the actor, eagerly seized by Sara Nower in a memorable, almost definitive performance. Her descent into incoherence, and her duologues at the end, were masterly. The object of her affections was played by Ben Fraser, too young for the ex-pilot, but he suggested the heartless cad effectively, yet we could still understand what she saw in him.
Mike Gordon was outstanding as the enigmatic Miller, and Mike Nower made a sympathetic husband, the quietly-spoken, buttoned-up judge who wants to do what is right. Solid support from Dean Hempstead as Freddie's friend and confidant, David Chilvers as the young civil servant. Christine Davidson was the landlady, a nicely observed character, also absolutely in period.