When Hester Collyer is found in her flat by her neighbours after a failed suicide attempt, her love affair with former RAF pilot Freddie Page and her estrangement from her husband is revealed.
Helen McCrory is absolutely fantastic in this production as Hester, and her performance is so full of emotion. The playwright Terrence Rattigan has said that the play is about
“the illogicality of passion”
and McCrory conveys this beautifully. She is a completely different person when Freddie appears, hiding her inner turmoil until she is alone.
Tom Burke is a callous Freddie Page, but you do have sympathy for his as a former war hero who has found that after the war that his life is dull and has no purpose. Hester isn’t enough for him, despite her efforts. Peter Sullivan is a younger and more attractive William Collyer than I would have imagined, and you may initially wonder why Hester chose Freddie, but he does convey a lack of passion that Hester clearly craves. Other strong performances are Marion Bailey as the landlord Mrs Elton and Nick Fletcher as the struck off doctor Mr Miller.
The set design is also very clever. Although the action all takes place in Hester and Freddie’s flat in Ladbroke Grove, the designer Tom Scutt has decided to show some of the other flats above, and we see other characters moving around and going up and down the stairs. This reflects the fact that Hester knows that people are watching and listening the whole time, and the appearances that they have to keep up when in public.
An excellent production with a stand out performance from Helen McCrory.