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National Theatre Live: The Deep Blue Sea (2016)

Helen McCrory (Medea and The Last of the Haussmans at the National Theatre, Penny Dreadful, Peaky Blinders) returns to the National Theatre in Terence Rattigan's devastating masterpiece, ... See full summary »


Carrie Cracknell


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Cast overview:
Helen McCrory ... Hester Collyer
Tom Burke ... Freddie Page
Peter Sullivan ... William Collyer
Nick Fletcher ... Mr. Miller
Hubert Burton Hubert Burton ... Philip Welch
Yolanda Kettle ... Ann Welch
Marion Bailey ... Mrs. Elton
Tomiwa Edun ... Jackie Jackson
Elsie Fallon ... Ensemble


Helen McCrory (Medea and The Last of the Haussmans at the National Theatre, Penny Dreadful, Peaky Blinders) returns to the National Theatre in Terence Rattigan's devastating masterpiece, playing one of the greatest female roles in contemporary drama. Tom Burke (War and Peace, The Musketeers) also features in Carrie Cracknell's critically acclaimed new production. A flat in Ladbroke Grove, West London. 1952. When Hester Collyer is found by her neighbours in the aftermath of a failed suicide attempt, the story of her tempestuous affair with a former RAF pilot and the breakdown of her marriage to a High Court judge begins to emerge. With it comes a portrait of need, loneliness and long-repressed passion. Behind the fragile veneer of post-war civility burns a brutal sense of loss and longing.

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Official Sites:

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Release Date:

1 September 2016 (UK) See more »

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User Reviews

The electrifying blue sea
11 August 2017 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

After watching the Terence Rattigan DVD collection (with most of the adaptations being from the 70s and 80s) when staying with family friends last year, Rattigan very quickly became one of my favourite playwrights and he still is. His dialogue is so intelligent, witty and meaty, his characterisation so dynamic, complex and real and the storytelling so beautifully constructed.

'The Deep Blue Sea' may not be among my favourite Rattigan plays ('The Browning Version', 'The Winslow Boy', 'Separate Tables'), but it's still wonderful and distinctively Rattigan. The writing is 24-carat Rattigan and the story is timeless in its searing emotion and romantic passion. It's very sharply observant and witty at times too. Saw this production at Cineworld when it first came out, but somehow forgot about reviewing it amidst a heavy music course workload and being behind with film watching, very odd for a production that left a big impression on me. Found my notes taken for the production recently and finally got round to reviewing it with those notes as a guide.

Presently, this production of 'The Deep Blue Sea' is not available on DVD. This is sad, because it is a fantastic representation of the play and of Rattigan in general, proof that 'The Deep Blue Sea' works even better on stage (as intended in the first place) as it does on film/television. Of the four film/television/live simulcast versions seen of 'The Deep Blue Sea' (the others being the ones with Penelope Wilton, Vivien Leigh and Rachel Weisz), this one is the best which is why it deserves a DVD release.

It's not quite perfect. The sound effects and scoring are too intrusive which occasionally hurts the intimacy of the mood.

However, 'The Deep Blue Sea' is a beautiful-looking production, being evocatively designed and costumed that will appeal to traditional and contemporary audiences. Didn't think it was too busy despite a lot going on, the production actually is designed in a way that contrasts with and takes one away from Hester's claustrophobic world. The photography captured the atmosphere of it very well.

The script is thought-provoking and observant, with the production capturing every ounce of the wit, nuances, depth and verve of Rattigan's writing. The story sears in emotion and even with a less charming Freddie to usual very romantically passionate, the ending is not quite Rattigan's but is still powerful and moving.

Carrie Cracknell captures the spirit of the original source material and with full understanding of Rattigan's intentions, also directing in a way that will delight traditionalists and also bring in a contemporary audience providing that Rattigan's style and subjects are not deemed too old-fashioned.

On top of that, we have the heart-wrenching and deeply felt, with some impeccably witty timing too, Hester of Helen McCrory to carry and rightly dominate the proceedings. Tom Burke is a passionate and full of panache leading man, and Cracknell clearly understood that the supporting cast is important in 'The Deep Blue Sea' because they are uniformly very good (though none quite as exceptional as McCrory). Particularly Nick Fletcher's kindly Miller and Peter Sullivan's intense Collyer.

In summation, electrifying. 9/10 Bethany Cox

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