Review – While the Sun Shines, Orange Tree Theatre

Friday 14 June 2019

Like a lot of life, While the Sun Shines had completely passed us by. Which is surprising to us as it initially played over 1,000 performances and was Terence Rattigan‘s greatest hit.

A 1947 filmed version with the likes of Ronald Howard, Brenda Bruce, Margaret Rutherford, Joyce Grenfell and Wilfred Hyde-White sounds like just the sort of thing we should check out on a wet Sunday afternoon.

A brief Broadway production elicited this from the New York Herald Tribune: “A gay drawing-room comedy has come romping to the rescue of the faltering season.” And as it opens with the youthful Bobby, Earl of Harpenden (Philip Labey) waking up, on the day of his wedding, to find he has a semi-naked American soldier, Joe, in his bed. You might initially wonder if subtexts aren’t being unearthed.

With two intervals Paul Miller’s peppy comedy of mistaken identity goes on just a little bit too long. But that is the only criticism you will find here, though Andrew did gripe about the noise of Quentin Lett’s (seated immediately behind us) pen which scribbled furiously during Act 1. Cut one interval and they’ll be fine. Heck, Phil was with Andrew and there were not even any whinges about the Orange Tree’s in-the-round staging.

We were in a very good mood by the first interval and genuflected at the talents of all those gracing the stage, with Phil singling out Julian Moore-Cook and Jordan Mifsúd as the American and French soldiers for special attention. We speculated that the much spoken of, but at this point unseen, character of Mabel Crum (Bobby’s ex) might remain unseen. Thank goodness this was not the case. When the glorious Dorothea Myer-Bennett appeared the production lifted up yet another notch as she poached the show from all around. Though this shameless scene-stealing should not leave us without a special mention to Sabrina Bartlett‘s Lady Elizabeth. Her Act 2 drunken scene is as funny as it is convincing. After all we should know.

Amazingly this was Phil’s first visit to Richmond’s Orange Tree Theatre. It was a very good place to start. Ms Myer-Bennett we will be watching out for you.

Farcical shallow silliness plays very much to our gallery except when it comes in the shape of Prime Ministers. If our sort of thing is your sort of thing, then you should book without delay.

A delight.



One Response to “Review – While the Sun Shines, Orange Tree Theatre”

  1. rt Says:

    Who is this Quentin Lett, scribbler? I came here for The Light in the Piazza and there’s sadly nothing. Cheap tickets have been readily available.

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