Terence Rattigan’s first play to be produced on the West End now makes another appearance there thanks to young and ambitious theatre company Primavera.
First Episode (also titled College Sinners) charts four university undergraduates in their efforts to stage a production of Anthony and Cleopatra. Co-written with his roommate at the time, Philip Heimann, the play expresses a love between two young men that Rattigan wished could exist between himself and Heimann. Relationships blossom: between a boy and an older woman, and between two students. This is the playwright at his rawest— he was only twenty-two and still at university himself. There are echoes of the Oxford University Drama Society, where John Gielgud and Peggy Ashcroft started their careers. The melancholy is pervasive: “You’re all so very young,” says one character, the actress Margot, “It’s almost stifling, the atmosphere of youth in this place.”
The Production Company...
This year Primavera was the company behind the Finborough’s charming revival of Martine, starring Game of Thrones actress Hannah Murray. The Guardian wrote, “Tom Littler and Primavera's production does rich justice to the play's still, sad music" And for their musical revival of Anyone Can Whistle, The Evening Standard was so impressed they said: “Littler and his ambitious production company Primavera confirm that they are names to follow.” Tom Littler, the company’s artistic director, directs First Episode and has worked alongside such greats as Sir Peter Hall and Sir Trevor Nunn in the West End.
In his time, Terence Rattigan was often reviewed harshly by critics who thought he was catering to "undemanding middle-class taste" but thankfully we now see his plays for what they are: acutely observed social dramas, peeling back skin to reveal the inner workings of the shy or aloof. Heartbreak has never been in gentler hands.
Rattigan’s centenary in 2011 (and perhaps also the Tom Hiddleston/Rachel Weisz movie version of The Deep Blue Sea ) has sparked a new spate of revivals. And First Episode is a wonderful rediscovery for London audiences and an opportunity to see the play that prompted the young Rattigan to become a full time playwright.
|What||First Episode, Jermyn Street Theatre|
Jermyn Street Theatre
16b Jermyn St,, London , SW1Y 6ST | MAP
|Nearest tube||Piccadilly Circus (underground)|
30 Oct 14 – 22 Nov 14, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
|Website||Click here to book via Primavera Productions|