Hot on the heels of their autumn showstopper ‘Calendar Girls’, Duns Players marked Remembrance Sunday with an adaptation of Terrence Rattigan’s war time play ‘Flare Path’.
The action was set long before the largely young cast, and most probably their parents, were even born but that wasn’t an obstacle for this talented bunch.
Against a back drop of air raids and uncertainty, the residents of the Falcon Hotel in Milchester each had their own struggles to contend with no more so than actress Patricia Graham who was torn between her devotion to her RAF husband Teddy and famous actor Peter Kyle.
Playing the role of the woman who faced a tug of war with her own heart strings, Sarah Gray was fantastic from start to finish. She avoided over egging the egg in her poignant scenes with Teddy (Robert White) and possessed a strong yet subtle stage presence .
Robert was everything a wartime hero should be- charming, selfless and a jolly good chap. But when Teddy’s bravado started to crumble after a particularly frightening raid, Robert got right to the heart of his character’s moment of weakness.
And although the two characters differed quite enormously, Patrick Watson’s Peter wasn’t entirely the aloof, emotionless primadonna he could have been and too let his heart creep onto his sleeve. Patrick brought a warmth to the role and like Robert, had great chemistry with Sarah.
I really struggled to believe that Doris Skriczevinsky was Alexandra Watney’s first role with the Players. Like Sarah, she couldn’t have hoped to have made a better first impression as a woman who thought she’d lost her beloved husband Jonny after his plane landed in the sea.
However, he survived (cue aahs and excited gasps from the audience), meaning that his alias Matthew Taylor was given more time to showcase his impressive Polish accent in what I would say was one of his strongest performances to date. I’d say the same for Hannah Hay who was fantastically deadpan as matter of fact hotel owner Mrs Oakes.
Completing the lineup and just as deserving of the plaudids were Ben Foreman’s Dusty Miller; his wife Maudie (Ella Gibbs), Sdn Ldr Swanson (DC) and Percy, played by Barry Jones. I hope Barry won’t mind me remarking that he was the oldest actor on stage but his enthusiasm ensured he slotted in perfectly.
On paper ‘Flare Path’ shouldn’t really have worked but with the support of director John Schofield the cast ripped up the rule book and on a day when the nation remembered those who fought so proudly for their country, Duns Players put in a performance hard to forget.