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If you’re looking for theater webcasts to keep you entertained during the pandemic, the website of London’s National Theatre should be one of your regular stops. Not only does the NT routinely make broadcast-quality videos of its major productions, but it is responding to the closing of British theaters by streaming a free video every Friday on its “National Theatre at Home” webpage. These videos, each of which remains available for a week, are of the highest possible artistic merit and technical finish, and the company’s latest offering, a 2016 revival of Terence Rattigan’s “The Deep Blue Sea” directed by Carrie Cracknell, will be of special interest to American viewers, since Rattigan’s plays are rarely produced in the U.S. “The Deep Blue Sea,” his masterpiece, had a brief Broadway run in 1998, but so far as I know, it hasn’t been staged over here since then, in New York or anywhere else.
I can’t imagine a better introduction to Rattigan than “The Deep Blue Sea,” a 1952 drama about the English middle class and its stiff-upper-lip discontents that is at once suavely crafted and profoundly felt….
Ms. McCrory is thrilling as the desperate Lady Hester, though she never overshadows the other members of Ms. Cracknell’s well-matched ensemble cast, and the production comes through with shining precision on video….
Here’s a happy surprise: The Mint Theater, an off-Broadway troupe that specializes in staging unjustly forgotten 20th-century plays to unfailingly pleasing effect, has been storing up broadcast-ready three-camera archival videos of its productions since 2013. Now it’s making three of the best ones, George Kelly’s “The Fatal Weakness,” Harold Chapin’s “The New Morality” and Hazel Ellis’ “Women Without Men,” available for free in a “Summer Stock Streaming Festival” package….
If the company itself is new to you, I suggest that you start with “The Fatal Weakness,” which had a short Broadway run in 1946 but was never revived anywhere until the Mint exhumed it in 2014. Best known for “The Show-Off” (1924), which still gets produced from time to time, and best remembered for being Grace Kelly’s uncle, Kelly was one of the most popular playwrights of his day. Few remember him today, yet his best plays remain impressive. “The Fatal Weakness,” far from being a dusty museum piece, is a tough-minded serious comedy about the high price of upper-crust adultery….
* * *To read my review of The Deep Blue Sea, go here. To read my review of The Fatal Weakness, go here.
An excerpt from The Deep Blue Sea: