The Art of Goodbye: Crucial Texts (1)

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(Tom Burke and Helen McCrory in the National Theatre’s recent run of The Deep Blue Sea)

The Deep Blue Sea, Terrence Rattigan (1952)

The action passes during the course of a day in September in the sitting-room of a furnished flat in the north-west of London.  

Perspective shifting book number one. The Deep Blue Sea is a gloriously crafted play by Rattigan. Set in post-war Britain, Hester Collyer is embroiled in a fiery affair with an ex-RAF pilot (Freddie); a sharp, passionate man in whom Hester finds a passionate, carnal reciprocation that she is denied in her marriage to a high-court judge (Collyer). The poignant autobiographical influence of this play is clear. Rattigan’s lover, Kenny Morgan, committed suicide by gassing himself before a fireplace, and the tableau vivant greeting audiences is the leading actress attempting the same thing.

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