The Sacred Flame

English Touring Theatre
Back doing what I pretty much do best – participate by watching – I was once again stationed midpoint, approximately ten rows back at the Oxford Playhouse, two nights previous.

Very excited, perhaps more so than usual, as I’d been anticipating the return of the ETT, since seeking high level pleasure from their production of The Real Thing (29 June).  In fact I was so excited during the afternoon lead-up, that I started to put together ideas for an Outfit and prepared well with a pre-theatre G&T (try Tanqueray – Export Strength, Rangpur for its subtle limey-botanical favours).

Following the bus trip down, which was theatre in itself as I was able to eaves-drop on a highly amusing attempt by one, not bad looking 40 year male, to chat-up a presumably ‘new the area’, very attractive 19 year old student. Unfortunately, my stop arrived so I’m unsure of the proceeding Act(s) in this particular drama, thus can’t provide greater detail….never mind, to the Playhouse we go and taking one’s seats.

First impressions and what carried through, good staging and excellent costumes, especially the selection of correspondent shoes sported and Stella’s outfits, particularly her white trousers, knit and scarf combination.

And to the belly of the drama:
Great that I hadn’t swatted-up on the storyline prior to attendance, for my ignorance played to its advantage. Yes, I was kept in continued uncertainty (and suspense) as to the outcome of each scene. Slowly forming my opinion of what would happen next or who was the actual bad-doer, to have these ponderings abruptly sentenced to the ‘you’re completely wrong corner’, thereby providing me with ample scope to think hard, concentrate hard and be entertained hard.

Additionally, I discovered that when subjected to Nurse Wayland’s example of ‘virtue’ and ‘uprightness’, my money’s on the not so well behaved. She was really hard work and as it turns out not really a champion of integrity, rather someone who had her nose out of joint at having to work for a living and had a crush on someone’s husband, so struggled to have kind thoughts for the wife.

My favourite characters – perhaps very much to do with casting – award goes to….

  • Robert Demeger – for his role as the Major
    There wasn’t a moment when I thought you were anyone but
  • Jamie de Courcey – for portraying a perfect Maurice
    When you were really involved in the action you were good and when having to sit still for extremely long periods, you were (are) the Master.
  • And ladies – Mrs Tabret, Stella and Nurse Wayland
    You did the show well. And the more you were all on stage, the better the production became.

My advice then, if you are planning or contemplating attending… go flying the flag of ‘don’t find out about the plot’ or try and erase the knowledge you have of it if you have already engaged with Mr W.Somerset Maugham’s text – for not knowing only adds to the fun.

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