Arts Reviews

“Stunningly Raw and Sincere Emotion” – Theatre Review: The Deep Blue Sea @ Nottingham New Theatre

Ana Balanici and Amy Child

Nottingham New Theatre brought Terence Rattigan’s 1952 play The Deep Blue Sea to the stage between March 13th and 18th. The play tackles the main character Hester’s mental health struggles as she attempts to cling to her relationship with her ex-fighter pilot boyfriend Freddy, who is himself having problems adjusting to post-war life. Impact’s Ana Balanici and Amy Child review.

Content warnings: depressive episodes, suicide, discussions/themes of minimisation of suicide, misogyny, racism and microaggressions, drug and alcohol abuse, abusive partner,

Act 1 started off with an almost-bare stage, on a slightly weaker footing than the later acts. However, by Act 2, the performance found its stride, treating the heightened tension and emotion brilliantly. The staging had an interesting concept, perhaps reflecting the protagonist’s mental state, but it did cause a little confusion at the start due to the set appearing slightly unfinished and uninteresting. We nevertheless enjoyed the moments of altering the stage (shout out to the backstage crew for pulling that off!) where the focus remained on Hester through ingenious use of lighting and sound. The stage was plunged into darkness, with a single spotlight focusing on Hettie Rockell, who demonstrated stunningly raw and sincere emotion.

His monologues didn’t feel scripted, but were immersive and as close to real expression as possible

Throughout the play, we watch Hester struggle between two potential partners, with her convictions, as well as her treatment and views of herself. Hester is such a difficult and heavy role to play, but Hettie did so phenomenally well. By now, both of us have seen Hettie in several different shows and absolutely loved her characters in all of them, which just demonstrates the scope of her talent. Her acting in this particular production was incredible; she portrayed the complexity of Hester in such a truthful manner, captivating the audience and leaving them touched and tearful, especially during the emotional climax of the play.

Another outstanding performance was given by Alex Piechowski as Freddie. By far one of the best acting performances we’ve seen so far at the NNT, his extremely powerful and stirring portrayal of emotional turmoil left us hugely impressed. As Freddie becomes increasingly drunk, you can see the physical manifestation of its effect on him, through his speech and body language. His monologues didn’t feel scripted, but were immersive and as close to real expression as possible. Hettie and Alex’s dynamic was incredible, they complemented each other so well and created an unforgettable show.

The entire cast gave their best during the last act, which made for a hard-hitting and emotive ending, encouraging discussions of mental health. The bitter-sweet ending with its hopeful message of it never being too late to begin again is one that will forever stay with you.

Sidenote: If yourself or someone you know is need of further support, you can always access the mental health services facilitated by the University of Nottingham here.

Amy Child and Ana Balanici

Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.

In-article image courtesy of @nottinghamnewtheatre via No changes were made to this image.

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