Curtains Up

Curtains Up: Review of Plenty

Chichester Festival Theatre
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Susan Traherne is a former secret agent. Her heroic work with the Special Operations Executive in Nazi-occupied France brought her extremes of danger, as well as adventures and romance. Twenty years on she is living a very different existence in London, as the wealthy wife of a diplomat. Her strained marriage and altered circumstances have threatened her identity and trapped her in a destructive nostalgia for her wartime idealism. In a post-war land of plenty, Susan battles for her own body and mind, as Britain loses its role in the world. Using a non-linear structure, the drama dips backwards and forwards in time to explore how the past and present coexist. On its first appearance at the National Theatre in 1978, David Hare’s play caused a furore, and is now accepted as one of the great modern classics. David Hare’s previous plays for Chichester include South Downs (2011) and Young Chekhov (2015).

What The Press say:

“Plenty – the state of the (post-war) nation drama that firmly put David Hare on the map – premiered at the National in 1978, went to Broadway, and has been revived in the West End. Yet it’s in Chichester that it looks most at home. Rachael Stirling triumphs as a fearless Bond-like figure in Kate Hewitt’s incredibly slick revival, stylishly designed by Georgia Lowe.”
Daily Telegraph

“Rachael Stirling is excellent in Kate Hewitt’s invigorating production of a play about individual and national unease. David Hare’s Plenty is the occasion for a critique of society that has unexpected resonances today. As the first scene is about the British penchant for lies and the second argues that it takes more people to dismantle an empire than to administer it, it hit me that Susan’s disgust at deception and incompetence finds an uncanny echo in the divisions and anger provoked by Brexit. But, if Hare’s elliptical epic lives on, it is because its portrait of individual trauma is matched by its ability to tap into our nation’s permanent unease with itself.”

Our Reviewer says:

Rachel Stirling is the daughter of Diana Rigg and she certainly is a chip off the old block. In David hares play which first appeared in 1978, she plays the role of Susan Traherne who worked with the SOE in Wartime France and hasn’t had a moment’s excitement since. Exaggeration of course, but this pretty much sums up Susan’s post war life and the play of course. Stirling brilliantly portrays the contradictions of this woman seeking to replicate the excitement of the time. She seamlessly moves from young adult to mature and gives the role real gravitas and sympathy.

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