The Art of Goodbye: Crucial Texts (1)

(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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