Flare Path Illuminates Good Drama, Walker Theatre

Shropshire Drama Company

Flare Path

Walker Theatre

Wednesday 26th June –Saturday 29th June

From the pen of Terence Rattigan, “Flarepath”, is a story of love and deceit in a wartime setting. It’s a big show and has been with us since the first performance back in a darker world where the end of the war seemed miles away in 1942. It’s a sobering thought when one thinks about the privations, the dangers and the tragedy that our parents and grandparents went through. Now it’s just a page in history but by keeping it bookmarked it may well prevent future conflicts and one hopes that as a species we learn.

So how did Shropshire Drama Company deal with it? Initially, one would say that although the play is an important piece of social history, in today’s theatrical age the show does look the age it is and pace and tension were different concepts in those days. It makes for long monologues that have to be utterly believable. That is a real challenge.

So it is a mixed bag there are some great performances, one was delighted with the characterisation of Sergeant (Dusty) Miller, David Hughes Beddows  gives the character something extra, a bit special; it was a good solid performance, as was the Countess Skriczevinsky, Jodie Welch really owned the character and brought her perfectly off the page and onto the stage.

There was one technical issue that one has to allude to and that is the volume of the overhead aeroplanes. There was a competition for what could be heard the best. Actor or aeroplane? It was no contest. Sadly the plane wins to the detriment of the script. One might be tempted to suggest a pause for the aircraft and then back into dialogue. The noise level made it hard occasionally to hear the actors.

Audibility is a crucial part to a good drama and planes noises notwithstanding some could turn up their volume a little, however some were stronger than others.

Rosalind Garrard both designed the set and directed the performance. The set was good comprising a nice reception area in a hotel in Lincolnshire. Nearby is the RAF airbase so some of the pilots and aircrew either lived in the hotel or drank there. One isn't too clear about their domiciles but by coincidence or good management they all drank in the lobby of this hotel. I say coincidentally as one of the guests is involved with another man’s wife. How they ended up staying in the hotel together is a little mysterious but Rattigan didn’t see the importance of clarity on that issue.

One has already stated that this is a big show one means from the perspective of the director. A lot of mood settings and a lot of monologues has kept the director on her toes. Overall direction has been performed by someone who knows what they are doing, this is a show with challenges and Ms. Garrard answered them well.

One always expects quality fron SDC and one is rarely disappointed. They are a really happening bunch of people and seing the size of the audience tonight suggests they have a lot of friends and supporters. One hopes they will keep following their path of bringing well-presented drama to the public. This is so much more than am-dram. One never uses that term as it carries the weight of suggestion and people draw up poor images in their head. Of course they are wrong but that’s an issue for another day. However this reviewer is satisfied to say that the level this company aims for is high. But if you don’t take risks you don’t survive as mundanity doesn’t fill theatres. One hopes this company will continue for many years to come delivering top drama to an expecting public. Status quo just as it should be.

This is a Three Star Review

Owen J. Lewis


Owen Lewis Owen Lewis

Owen Lewis was born fifty something years ago in the land of the black puddings. For the geographically challenged that is in Lancashire. Moving to Shropshire From 1970 Owen was brought up in Church Stretton. His first real job was in radio. After starting on BBC Radio Shropshire he became known on Marcher Sound, broadcasting throughout the North West for several years. After a university degree course in Theatre, Owen became an actor and went on to play "Pirate Bill" in The Alton Towers Hotel. He also made several television appearances. Returning to university he took his PGCE enabling him to teach. That saw him on the Essex coast as a drama teacher and latterly as a Creative Educational Liaison Officer making films and creating new teaching methods to employ on children in need of more help in their fundamental learning skills. Three times Published playwright Owen ultimately wants a house boat in Amsterdam to focus on his work as Playwright and Poet. See more on www.ojlwritingservices.co.uk.

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