In front of us is Hester’s flat, where you can see the shadows of stairs behind leading to the flats above.
With the blue/grey lighting, and the towering flats behind, it manages to cast a sombre mood across the stage.
In its shadows, you can see figures running and calling out.
“Mrs Page! Mrs page!”
“Is that gas?”
Hester is lying motionless on the floor of her flat with her neighbours shouts echoing around her, she is oblivious, her neighbours shouts get louder, growing more and more concerned.
She doesn’t answer any of their frantic calls, the shadows of worried neighbours now appear at her door.
When they finally enter, Mrs Elton (Marion Bailey) throws open the windows to let the air in and the gas out, she is unaware of Mrs Page (who we later find out is lady Collyer) lying motionless on the floor.
It’s Mr Welch (Hubert Burton) who turns around and sees her, they call for a doctor/not a doctor, Mr/Dr Miller to come and he takes her straight to bed.
We now have the start of what is going to be an emotional roller coaster for Hester Collyer (Helen McCrory) and the audience.
This play really doesn’t hold back, it throws you right in at the deep end.
Secrets don’t stay secret for long.
We start to find out all about Hester and Freddie’s relationship, how they came to be where they are, about her husband, her life before.
Throughout the play the neighbours come and go, up and down the stairs, in and out their homes.
It gives the feeling that, even when Hester seems alone the neighbours are always flitting in and out, always in the background.
I feel that this could for me, in a way present how Hester feels?
She is frightened to be alone but she feels alone even when she is not, she doesn’t seem to see the people around her.
She talks and interacts but doesn’t seem to connect.
She is someone trying desperately to make the best of things, trying to put on a brave face.
Dr/Mr Miller (played brilliantly by Nick Fletcher) seems to be the only person who sees the true feelings of Hester, he is always popping in and out, subtle but yet, you get the feeling that because of his own secrets, he knows how she feels.
In the beginning he comes across as uncaring but really he is the one who understands the most.
Helen McCrory as Hester Collyer is amazing, I did feel that maybe at the beginning there was a little struggle to find her character (sorry) but it wasn’t for long and once she was there, she was perfect.
She played the character with such vunerabilty, you could see that she was a woman trying to keep herself together but was hopelessly falling apart.
She didn’t know how to ask/accept help.
She was a woman who had left a loveless marriage, left a husband who could provide everything she could ever need, apart from the one thing she craved.
Love, passion, to feel wanted.
I felt the pain, the tears, the sadness.
Her husband (played by Peter Sullivan) wants her back but only because he thinks he knows what’s best for her.
He gives off this air of importance, this attitude of only I can help, because he has the money and is held in high regard by most, he thinks that will be what she needs, she needs stability and he is the one to give her that.
But she needs more.
Hester’s desperate need for Freddie, is sad to watch, you feel for her but at the same time you want to grab her and tell her “you can do this on your own!”
She pulls you in, you can feel the heartache and the sorrow, the deep sadness that has taken hold of her.
It’s all played brilliantly by Helen McCrory.
I have to say Tom Burke (playing Freddie) really stood out for me.
He played his character with such confidence and gave off the feeling of being carefree, a joker, but when he finds her note, you see him go from carefree cheeky chap to confused and angry.
You see him really trying to understand, he wants answers, you can feel the frustration, especially as she doesn’t seem to want to talk, Hester wants to just pretend it didn’t happen.
You see him realise that maybe they are better off apart.
He needs to walk away, he doesn’t want to be the cause of her pain.
He played it really well.
Tom and Helen had great chemistry together, you believe it, you feel the passion of their characters and the fire of the relationship, you felt the heartache.
They connected and made you believe in the relationship, which is hard to do when we haven’t seen the start of it. We see them 10 months in, so to be able to get the audience to believe it, to believe in this love story, well that’s down to them.
They had to make sure we cared enough about the relationship to be sad when it ended.
Both actors did just that.
You could say the stage was maybe to big for such an intimate and emotional play but on the other hand you could say it was the perfect size.
A big stage to represent the feeling of being lost, the feeling of being alone? Scared? Vunerable?
I don’t know, but either way I don’t think it matters, because the stage, together with the writing, the acting and the music, it all worked.
I felt what they wanted me to feel.
The whole cast were superb, Peter Sullivan plays William Collyer reminded me a bit of Colin Firth, that very British I know what’s best attitude but not great with emotions.
Great for the character.
Landlady, Mrs Elton (Marian Bailey) who along with Mr Miller (Nick fletcher) brought much needed humour with a quick joke or one liner, just at the right moments, helping break up what is an intense play.
Then there is Freddie’s good friend Jackie (Adetomiwa Edun) who doesn’t want to know what happened, he would rather be kept in the dark, a nod to even today’s society where mental health is still a subject that is brushed aside, people would rather not know
And last but not least, the cute couple who live upstairs.
Philip and Ann Welch (Hubert Burton & Yolanda Kettle) who are about to start their own family, showing us that it’s not all doom and gloom when you fall in love!
This play is worth a watch, from the cast, to the stage setting, to the writing, it all ties together to take you on an emotional journey of love, betrayal, grief and learning to just be ok with yourself.
The Deep Blue Sea is playing at the National Theatre until September 21st 2016
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