The Deep Blue Sea – Review
The blank stage opens with a woman lying stretched out, lit in shades of blue. From here, as the music intro intensifies, the set is built around her by the entire cast. We find ourselves in a rather drab and tired London flat, the woman is now in front of an unlit gas fire. Her name is Hester Colyer (Marta Dusseldorp) and she’s reached breaking point and has attempted suicide.
The cause of her suicidal grief is her emotionally numbed lover, Freddie Page (Fayssal Bazzi), for whom she has left her prosperous life with affectionate husband, Sir William Collyer (Matt Day). It’s 1952, Freddie was a pilot in the war. He’s lost his zest for life and left his vitality in the sky.
Following her feigned attempt to take her life, enter Mr Miller (Paul Capsis) whose rather camp key role becomes more and more evident as the story develops.
In 1952, an unmarried woman living with her lover was “living in sin”. Suicide was illegal, as was homosexuality and it is all in this play.
I was surprised when the First Act concluded after 40 minutes, it was a brilliant ride that introduced us to all the characters, and featured some brilliantly executed, often dark, humour. It certainly left me wanting more.
More is what I got from the substantial Second Act of 85 minutes.
The unwanted comments from landlady Mrs Elton (Vanessa Downing) are divine and exchanges between Philip Welch (Brandon McClelland) and Ann Welch (Contessa Trefone) as the young and conventional neighbours are deliberately starchy. Add to this the cool-headed scene with Freddie’s mate Jackie Jackson (Charlie Garber) trying to reason with his drunken friend and you have brilliant story telling that takes time build its characters.
Marta Dusseldorp is mesmerizing and doesn’t miss a beat. She has the poise of the establishment wife. Stoically in place just when you expect her to break, and then she flips the coin as the abandoned unhappy lover. Though heavy hearted, she moves like a feather. In some of the final scenes we see the brilliance of Paul Capsis in his exchanges with Dusseldorp. Yet still, she turns the closing moments into an episode of surprising gusto after grief. She somehow reclaims herself to the delight of the audience.
It’s five stars from me. Sydney Theatre Company could not have chosen a better opening production for its 2020 season. “The Deep Blue Sea” is playing at the Roslyn Packer Theatre until March 7.