Needing a Rocket to the Moon
Back in the theatre saddle

Fabulous Flare Path

Images I'm going to come right out and say it. I loved Flare Path. If ever there was evidence that an engaging enough play can keep the tiredest person awake and alert then this is it.

It is set in a hotel near an RAF base during World War II where the guests are predominantly RAF staff and their wives and starts with the arrival of a rather suave and sophisticated looking man asking for a room for the night.

Doris (Sheridan Smith) who's Polish husband is fighting alongside the allies soon recognises him as English actor turned Hollywood screen star Peter Kyle (James Purefoy).

Kyle is out of place at the hotel where the everyday reality of wartime is evident. The wives of the pilots and gunners can recognise an enemy aircraft just from the sound of the engine, their husbands make light of their work but the danger of their nightly missions lurks in the background every look, joke and jape.

3-joe-armstrong-dusty-clive-wood-squadron-leader-swanson-mark-dexter-count-skriczevinsky-harry-hadden-paton-teddy-in-flare-path-at-the-theatre-royal-haymarket It soon becomes apparent that Kyle simple hasn't blown in with the wind but has followed Flight Lte 'Teddy' Graham's actress wife Patricia to the hotel where she is visiting her husband (Harry Hadon-Paton and Sienna Miller).

Flare Path is just as much about will or won't Patricia leave her husband for former lover Kyle as it is about will or won't the husbands return from a night bombing run and both story lines have fear, loss and loneliness at their core.

It is a genuinely warm, funny and deeply moving play with an all round superb cast. Smith is just wonderful as the bubbly, trying to hold it together Doris. And Miller gives genuine emotional depth to a character that could easily be played with a dislikeable superficiality.

A nod also goes to Hadden-Paton who is shaping up to be a fine actor but a special mention has to go to Matthew Tennyson who plays the landlady's teenage son Percy. Tennyson graduates from drama school this summer but already has several theatre credits under his name. Definitely one to keep an eye on.

If you are going to see one Rattigan play this year, go and see Flare Path. I give it five stars and on from seven reviews it has and average rating of 4.2/5.

Day seats are £20 and are on the first two rows - an absolute bargain. It runs at the Theatre Royal Haymarket until June 4.

What's on Stage recorded the post show Q&A with Smith, Miller and Purefoy which you can listen to on their website.


This one was so obvious I didn't immediately spot it but it's Flare Path director Trevor Nunn who also directed Mr W in Hamlet at the Old Vic. But before the penny dropped on that connection I had noticed another, Sarah Crowden who plays landlady Mrs Oakes was also in Brideshead Revisited.