“If you audition for plays at The Talisman Theatre you will be cast on ability and suitability for a role, regardless of ethnicity, The only exceptions will be where a particular ethnicity is clearly logical or expressly specified by the author. This has always been so in relation to disability and sexuality and this remains the case. We will also seek opportunities to be creative in casting, for example, changing the gender of a role where an auditionee is the best choice, and where this is coherent within the context of the play. (Please note, occasionally Authors and/or Rightsholders refuse permission for this.)”
Rattigan’s work is constantly revived these days. His plays were written in a traditional framework and inevitably shunned in the post war enthusiasm for modern realistic theatre. Yet they have stood the test of time better than just about all that temporarily displaced them. And seeing or reading them it is easy to see why: They are about people, moving, have heart stopping emotional depth and above all are relevant. The characters are placed in recognisable contemporary situations. Many plays are well known and the Talisman Theatre has played a good number of them but this one is probably an outstanding one – ‘a classic of the modern theatre’ as described by Michael Billington, celebrated theatre critic.
Hester Collyer- late 30s/40s
The play begins with her failed suicide- she has deserted her prosperous lawyer husband for Freddie the charismatic former pilot. We witness her struggle to find herself through the agony of blighted love where Freddie’s ambivalence and behaviour threaten her security and confidence. She is attractive, not necessarily pretty but with a reverberating emotional intelligence. Please note this part has been cast.
Philip Welch 20-30
Office worker living in the same block of flats who discovers Hester’s suicide bid. One of the characters through whom Hester is able to work out her situation and find resolution.
Ann Welch, his wife 20/30
An important foil for Philip and like him critical to the theme of the play.
Mrs Elton- 50s to 60s
Caretaker/ housekeeper of these rather dingy flats in outer London. A lovely character part. A caring support for Hester she sees much but reveals rather less.
Mr Miller 40/50’s
A “doctor” with a mysterious past currently working for a bookmaker. Shabbily dressed. Has slight German accent. With an obvious professionalism he tends Hester in her distress and is one of the main supports in her finding resolution.
William Collyer Mid 40s – mid 50s
Hester’s husband, barrister and judge, prosperous yet through the piece is forbearing of disloyalty, compassionate even.
Freddie Page late 20s – early 30s.
Former fighter pilot with distinguished record. Alcoholic and emotionally frustrated and perhaps damaged. Easy manner and physically attractive. Ambivalent towards Hester, selfish and inconsiderate. But we can see why she is attracted to him.
Jackie Jackson 30s – early 40s
Friend and confidant of Freddie. Appears towards the end of the play.
These brief sketches do not do justice to the rich characters in this piece. Not only does each one contribute to the plot but even more significantly to the emotional layering of the whole play.
You have to read it or see it to appreciate its impact. It’s about the inequality and the unfairness of love realised through unsentimental compassion and emotional truth.