Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Pressure

Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
Four stars
Talking about the weather may be the great British talking point, but
storm and sunshine become matters of life and death in David Haig's new
World War Two set play. Based on real events leading up to the 1944 D
Day landings, the play focuses on Dalkeith-born military meteorologist
James Stagg and his sleepless quest to convince General Eisenhower to
postpone the assault until a favourable climate prevails.

Stagg's main obstacle to being taken seriously is his flamboyant
American counterpart, Irving Krick, whose glamour-chasing allure is in
stark contrast to Stagg's oddball demeanour. Throw in the fact that
Stagg's wife has just gone into labour, and the stage is set for an
increasingly urgent culture clash, where victory is celebrated with
doughnuts and whisky.

Set in a solitary room awash with charts, ringing telephones and a
coterie of generals, Haig has constructed a grippingly pacey adventure
yarn on the one hand, with Haig himself as Stagg leading a rock solid
set of performances into battle. More importantly in John Dove's
co-production between the Royal Lyceum and Chichester Festival Theatre,
Haig attempts to get to the human frailty of those in the thick of it.
At the heart of this is Kay Summersby, Eisenhower's war-time lover and
confidante, who keeps Stagg calm by visiting his wife in hospital, and
effectively keeps the mission together.

Beautifully played by Laura Rogers, it is Kay's fate that is most
telling in a tale of men at war and their responses to the women
they're closest to. While Stagg gets to be by his wife and new son's
side, Kay becomes the collateral damage of a historical moment she
helped shape.

The Herald, May 12th 2014


ends

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