2018 Events

Saturday November 24th 2018 – The first production of a play sponsored by the French Fund – a performance of Flare Path by BA (Hons) students of the Royal Central School of speech and Drama

The French Fund is generously donated by the Society’s Vice President and US Rep, Dr Holly Hill and after a buffet lunch, 45 of our Members gathered to listen as our Chairman, Barbara Longford, welcomed them and then extended a special welcome to Dr Hill and said how delighted she was that she had made the journey all the way from Texas to be with us and present the donation to the Principal, TRS member Professor Gavin Henderson.

After the welcoming speeches and presentation, the Central students gave a superb performance of Flare Path which recreated the world of the play and drew the audience in and showed total faith in the script and what it seeks to convey.  The cast swiftly established believable characters and the complex relationships which exist between them.  It was deeply poignant but at the same time managed to allow humour to spring naturally from the given situations.

After we had recovered from the play’s highly emotional conclusion, the cast and crew stayed for a very enjoyable and interesting question and answer session for TRS members, chaired by Professor Henderson.

Director Lindsay Posner, actors , creative and production teams are all to be congratulated for what was an extremely powerful and professional performance and resulted in a most enjoyable occasion for members of the society and their guests.


Bath Theatre Royal

In October the Bath Theatre Royal gave a rare opportunity to see two pre-eminent actors performing In Praise of Love in the intimate setting of the Ustinov Studio. Robert Lindsay & Tara Fitzgerald will star in Terence Rattigan’s last play, a perceptive and powerful drama about the concealed truths and veiled emotions in a marriage.

Sebastian and Lydia Crutwell live in a small flat in Islington. Sebastian, once a promising novelist, is now a cantankerous critic. Lydia, an Estonian refugee, has recently discovered she is seriously ill, news that she confides to a family, Mark, but not to Sebastian. Over the course of two evenings, a series of heart-breaking revelations changes the facade of Lydia and Sebastian’s relationship forever.

Deeply moving and filled with beautifully crafted dialogue, this compelling drama demonstrates Rattigan’s incomparable ability to define the British character.

The play will be directed by Jonathan Church who during his time as Artistic Director of the Chichester Festival Theatre proved himself to be a champion of Rattigan’s work mounting several productions and rehearsed readings in the anniversary year.

In Praise of Love runs from Wednesday 3rd October to Saturday 3rd November
Evening performances at 7.45pm, matinees (Wednesday & Saturday) at 2.30pm.
Press Night Monday 15th October at 7pm. Post Show Discussion on Thursday 25th October

In November the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama will be mounting Flare Path partly financed by the society’s Harold & Pegs French Award generously funded by Holly Hill.

Holly explained the purpose of the award and her delight at the forthcoming production:

Imagine full houses for Terence Rattigan’s plays in fifty, one hundred, hundreds of years from now. Happy thoughts, and a goal that the TRS can further right now by engaging young theatre professionals’ and playgoers’ enthusiasm and support for Rattigan’s work.

With this end in mind, I have committed a yearly sum to the Society. Our Committee brilliantly suggested that this could be used to support a production of a Rattigan play each year by a drama school.

And to develop the new programme, the Committee found the superbly qualified Professor Michael Gaunt. A theatre director; acting teacher; drama school principal; theatre historian and also Chairman of The Society for Theatre Research and a Fellow of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. Prof. Gaunt generously accepted the Committee’s invitation to join it as Drama Liaison Director. Michael has arranged for the Royal Central School of Drama (whose alumni include Olivier, Ashcroft, Dench, four Redgraves, Michael Grandage and relative youngsters Andrew Garfield and Kit Harrington) to stage Flare Path. TRS members are invited to the Saturday, 24 November performance.

When we were considering a name for this new venture, I thought of Harold and Pegs French. Harold French, as we all know, was the director of Rattigan’s first great success French without Tears, in 1936. Harold and his second wife Pegs were close friends and eventually caregiver-companions of Sir Terence, with him through his final illness and death. At the last, as Michael Darlow movingly wrote in his Rattigan biography: “…with Pegs French sitting beside him…He gave a slight smile and his head dropped on to her shoulder.”

I well remember the great kindness shown to me by Pegs French while I was working on my Ph.D dissertation A Critical Analysis of the Plays of Terence Rattigan. In the summer of 1975, Pegs, acting as Sir Terence’s personal assistant, welcomed me into his Albany chambers to work with his papers. I was allowed to take away, study and copy everything, including his juvenilia, the three versions of The Deep Blue Sea, his scrapbooks of press cuttings and countless other treasures now in the British Library. I was nervous all the time that my bedsit might burn down, or I’d be hit by a car and the papers I was carrying would scatter. What a priceless privilege I was given (and what a clever and kind way to keep a graduate student from being underfoot in Sir Terence’s home).

After Sir Terence’s death, I saw Harold and Pegs frequently in London. We had silly fun—Harold won the Snooker tournament at his club and wore the Snooker Champion shirt I had made for him; Pegs and I met for lunch and tea—once we were at the Ritz tearoom when all the guests were asked to go out into the garden because of a fire alarm upstairs. Several glasses of champagne later, I asked for the bill and we were told that there was none; the Ritz apologized for our inconvenience! We celebrated when I was named New York Theatre Correspondent for The Times in 1984; I was very grateful that they knew that the student to whom they were so nice was having a success.

So, for all that Harold and Pegs French meant to me and, more importantly, for all that they meant to Rattigan and Rattigan meant to them, I am thrilled that the TRS will have a component known as The French Fund—short for The Harold and Pegs French Memorial Fund. I hope that Society members will come to the 24 November performance of Flare Path at the Royal Central School of Drama to support a new generation of theatre artists performing the work of Terence Rattigan.


Annual General Meeting and Play Reading

Once again we combined our Annual General meeting with an event for members,  to make the journey worthwhile.  But this year we changed the format slightly by starting the day with the formal proceedings which include the election of the committee and the adoption of accounts.    The agenda, annual accounts and constitution have been placed in the members’ area of the website together with the Minutes.  After the AGM we had a Play Reading of  The Rattigan Affair’ by Lynda Strudwick.  Directed by Michael Darlow.   TRS member Lynda Strudwick’s intriguing play was submitted for The TRS Award and considered to be outstanding by our readers.  Terence Rattigan himself is a protagonist, as well as,  among others, Ronnie Winslow, Major Pollock, Mrs Railton-Bell, John Osborne, Hester Collyer, Aunt Edna, Taplow, and Andrew Crocker Harris.  The cast consisted of volunteer readers from the membership as well as Rosie Baker, a recent graduate from The Royal Central School of Speech & Drama.

This was a very jolly occasion, which concluded with a buffet lunch and approximately 40 members attended



Annual Birthday Dinner at the Oxford & Cambridge Club.  Guest speaker:  Professor John Bertolini

Each year the Society commemorates Terence Rattigan’s birthday (10th June, 1911) with a birthday dinner to which we invite a guest speaker.  This year our Vice-Presidents, Geoffrey Wansell and Lord Fellowes, together with 50 members and guests joined us at The Oxford and Cambridge Club where the guest speaker was Professor John Bertolini.  The dinner marked a change to previous birthday dinners by being a jacket and tie event rather than black tie. 

Professor Bertolini had recently published The Case for Terence Rattigan in which he asserts the extraordinary quality of Terence Rattigan’s dramatic art and its basis in his use of subtext, implication and understatement and explores through close analysis of Rattigan’s style of writing dialogue and speeches and how that style expresses Rattigan’s sense of life.  Professor Bertolini spoke about teaching Rattigan to his students and their changing views towards Rattigan and the intense response by the students to Rattigan and particularly the emotions of the plays. 

Geoffrey Wansell gave the vote of thanks to Professor Bertolini and Lord Fellowes was presented with his scroll of honour marking his Vice-Presidency.



Performance of The Winslow Boy, Richmond Theatre and Supper at The Duke

Approximately 40 members attended the matinee of The Winslow Boy at the Richmond Theatre, directed by Rachel Kavanaugh.  Members considered this to be one of the finest performances they had ever seen.  The ensemble playing was utterly convincing and Aden Gillett was outstanding in the role of Arthur Winslow.

Afterwards members had supper at The Duke public house, where a special table arrangement, with place cards enabled us to ensure that members were seated convivially.



Visit to Broadstairs for production of TRS Award-winning play.

The first professional production of the TRS Award-Winning play – ‘The Onion at the End’, by Roy Kendall took place at the Sarah Thorne Theatre in Broadstairs and fifty members of the society travelled to Kent for the performance. Our President, David Suchet, attended together with Vice Presidents – Michael Darlow, Julian Fellowes, Greta Scacchi and Geoffrey Wansell.

This was an extremely enjoyable occasion.  The play was skilfully directed by Michael Friend, with an outstanding cast (in order of appearance) Edward Broomfield (making his professional debut, aged 14), Stephen Martin-Bradley, Alexander Hulme, Lainey Shaw, Johanna Pearson-Farr and Clive Greenwood.

Author, Roy Kendall, was delighted to have his play put on at this theatre and enjoyed the experience.  (Details of Roy’s reactions will appear in Issue no. 24 of The Rattigan Version)


During the buffet tea after the performance, Giles Cole, TRS Editor, invited David Suchet to say a few words.  David said he thought Terence Rattigan would be very proud of this production of the award-winning play.  Julian Fellowes also spoke and told the cast that their future success in the theatre would largely depend on “luck”.


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