Friday, 24 May 2013

The Lost Play and a Bus named Terence

Today we hand over to another guest blogger. Kieran Chapman from the Theatre Royal Brighton tells us a bit about Terence Rattigan and there's a chance to win tickets to see Rattigan's 'Less Than Kind'...

The great British playwright Terence Rattigan is a name that could be said to now lack the authority it once did. Hugely successful in his prime during the mid 20th Century, Rattigan had strong connections to Brighton and called the town home for many years, a blue plaque denoting the seafront Kemptown house where he shared a street with none other than Sir Laurence Olivier. Three of his plays premièred in the Theatre Royal on New Road and there’s even a bus in Brighton named in his honour.

Rattigan struck early success during the mid 1930s, as a young man in his twenties, with two of his early plays. As WW2 broke out, Rattigan’s flourishing career was abruptly put on hold and he was enlisted in the RAF as a tail gunner. His time in the services inspired him to write the play Flare Path and shortly after its success he was released from active service to turn it into a film screenplay.

After the war ended Rattigan enjoyed many successes including co writing the screenplay for the 1947 film Brighton Rock and penning The Deep Blue Sea, which premièred at Brighton’s very own Theatre Royal in 1952. However in the mid 1950s Rattigan began to fall out of favour with the arrival of kitchen sink dramas, whose angry working class heroes were at stark odds with Rattigan’s more emotionally understated middle upper class settings.

Despite feelings of bitterness towards the changing tastes of the critics, Rattigan continued to write throughout the 60s and 70s, turning many of his plays into successful films. During this time he was cited by some as the highest paid screen writer in the world and was only the fourth playwright to be knighted during the 20th century in 1971. Terence’s later years were spent in Bermuda, where he tragically passed away in 1977 after a long battle with cancer.

Since the celebration of his centenary year in 2011, many of his plays have been enjoying a revival of their past success and next week, Rattigan will make a return to Brighton, the town and theatre he loved so dearly with the hilarious wartime comedy Less Than Kind. Originally staged in the 1940s, Rattigan was inspired to write the play after an argument with a friend over the conclusion of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. After which Rattigan asked himself how he might finish a play that began in a similar fashion, the title even alludes to an opening line directly from Hamlet ‘A little more than kin, and less than kind’.

The original script however was heavily altered at the suggestion of the then leading man Alfred Lunt, until the play had been changed so significantly it also underwent a name change to Love in Idleness (another Shakespearean reference, this time to the flower from A Midsummer Night’s Dream). As part of Rattigan’s centenary celebrations in 2011, the original version of Less Than Kind was published and staged for the very first time. Following success in London, the production, now starring Sue Holderness (Only Fools and Horses, Green, Green Grass) and William Gaminara (Silent Witness) is on tour around the UK and is coming to Brighton 27 May – 1 June.

We’re offering a chance to win a pair of tickets to Wednesday evening’s (29 May) performance of Less Than Kind at Theatre Royal Brighton next week; to enter all you need to do is tweet the following.

RT to win 2 tickets for Terence Rattigan’s hilarious Less Than Kind 27 May – 1 Jun Theatre Royal Brighton @TheatreRoyalBTN @Love_Brighton

A winner will be chosen on Tuesday 28 May and they will be notified by Twitter.

Thanks Kieran, and good luck everyone! 


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