Review: Deep Blue Sea at the Roslyn Packer Theatre

Review By Lee Sarich


If life is for living and The deep Blue Sea is about a woman who gambles all for her best life, Hester Collyer is winning. We’re drawn by the music to the curtain revealing a lone woman on a bare stage. The set is constructed around her. Like any society where the norms and rules are constructed around us, sometimes to support, sometimes to contain. Sometimes within and in-spite of these constructions, we shine.


Marta Dusseldorp shines as Hester, a woman of 1950s, post war London. Not an artificial shallow shine, but iridescent, dark with forlorn depths, flaring passion, flashing obsession, tenderness and joy. Emerging from her foiled suicide attempt Hester walks the tightropes between herself, her lover, her estranged husband, their neighbours and the society they all find themselves in. By turns she is supported, guided and pulled in different directions.


Mr Miller has survived his own tightropes. A handy neighbour, the bookies clerk, and former doctor offers practical assistance, philosophical guidance and advice. Paul Capsis embodies Millers’ compassion and skepticism with wit and restraint. Miller is often the anchor around which the other characters pivot while trying to untangle their emotions, desires, ambitions and values. He guides, cajoles, confronts and comforts revealing the wisdom of his own experience even managing to stop the show with his flawless advice on how one can avoid the pitfalls of love.


Freddie Page is the former spitfire pilot Hester has been living with. Explosive and despairing Freddie struggles to come to grips with Hesters suicide attempt, their ailing relationship, which is recent news to him and his own post war disillusionment. Fayssal Bazzi springs gracefully from cavalier golfer to thoughtful introspection then lurches into drunken rage.


He solicits advice from his able friend Jackie Jackson (Charlie Garber) who’s understated performance provides some welcome calm. But not for long. Tormented by the ‘loss of his nerve’ Freddie longs for the simplicity of aerial combat but instead finds himself fighting a much more difficult foe in his own emotions and ambitions.


Sir William Collyer, high court judge, dives back into the maelstrom having never stopped loving his wife. Helpful, charming or demanding he turns any way he can to get his wife back. Matt Day epitomises classic British stoicism as Sir William tries to fit his wife into a world he can understand. Eventually he sees she has found and will be happy to inhabit her own world according to rules of her own devising with his understanding or not.


Aided by Mrs Elton who’s pragmatic goodness is years beyond her time, scorned, judged, pitied and reminded of the constraints which she ought to adhere to by neighbours Ann and Philip Welch, Vanessa Downing, Contessa Treffone and Brandon Welch respectively weave in and out of Hesters story providing much of the backdrop of the times in which she finds herself.


Subtle gentle music encourages the characters as they delve into the intricacies of passion, lust, and a yearning for something more with out any overbearing distraction. Simple but attentive sets capture the time and mood of a last desperate cling to respectability, with a novel change of perspective for set and character enhancing the depths of both. Soft lighting again adds to the feeling of having escaped the worst of times with clear commitments to brighter futures.


In Terence Rattigans The Deep Blue Sea, director Paige Rattray and her team of creatives from the Sydney Theatre Company have found and brought to life a strong and complex character in tumultuous circumstances. Hester Collyer wins not because things turn out as she would have them but because she dared to try. The fact that she tries and in the face of supposed failure decides to try again, should warm us all.


Image Credit: Daniel Boud


All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.

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