Flare Path in Concert
October 22, 2004
Presented by the Actors Company Theatre (TACT) at Florence Gould Hall, French Institute/Alliance Franšais, 55 E. 59 St., NYC, Oct. 16-18.
If you thought the drawing-room drama had no more ability to move and entertain an audience, the excellent revival of Sir Terence Rattigan's World War II Air Force comedy-drama "Flare Path," presented by TACT, would have proven you wrong. Under Simon Jones' direction, the perfectly cast company was engrossing, poignant, amusing, and truthful.
Although performed as a staged reading, "Flare Path" was fully costumed and acted to the hilt. The play tells of the private lives of Royal Air Force pilots and crews and their wives, who visit them at the Falcon Hotel, Milchester. Former barmaid Doris is married to Polish air ace Count Skriczevinsky. Married to a stage star, Flight-Lieutenant Teddy Graham does not know about his wife's prior affair with American film star Peter Kyle until he shows up at the hotel. And Sergeant Miller awaits his neurotic wife, Maudie, who is always late for his one day off. Suddenly the men are called away for a dangerous night raid behind enemy lines.
Rattigan shows us what lurks behind British reserve. In a shatteringly powerful scene, Jamie Bennett's Graham reveals the real fears of the daily heroes. We watch as his beautiful wife, Patricia, played by Margaret Nichols, falls in love all over again with the husband she does not know. Jack Koenig was believable as her handsome Hollywood lover.
As usual, Darrie Lawrence stole every scene she was in with her crisp, no-nonsense hotel manager. Kathleen Doyle used just the right amount of self-deprecation as the former barmaid, Graeme Malcolm obtained much mileage out of his fractured English as the Count, and Scott Schafer and Mary Bacon were amusing as the Cockney couple. Both Geoffrey Molloy as the cheerful waiter and James Prendergast as the unflappable squadron leader gave able support.