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While the Sun Shines review at Theatre Royal Bath – ‘dated but likeable’

Scene from While the Sun Shines at Theatre Royal Bath. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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In the slipstream of recent National Theatre and Chichester Festival revivals of two of Terence Rattigan’s better known plays, The Deep Blue Sea and Ross, the Theatre Royal Bath summer season has enterprisingly unearthed this less familiar boulevard piece, written and set during the Second World War.

The author, whose service as an air-gunner in the Battle of the Atlantic had cleared a long period of writer`s block, viewed While the Sun Shines as a farce, built around the amorous misunderstandings of three Allied serviceman in wartime London. Director Christopher Luscombe is long on the comedy suit, too, but does rather miss the feeling that people`s over-riding desire was to live for the moment, and also each other, well aware of what tomorrow might bring.

Rattigan reflects the sexual free rein of the time as the Earl of Harpenden, made something of a sympathetic upper class twit by Rob Heaps, bids to arrange some willing female company for American colleague Lieutenant Mulvaney (Rupert Young), only for his none-too-bright fiancée Lady Elizabeth (Alexandra Dowling), to turn up instead of the splendidly named floozy Mabel Crum (Tamla Kari).

Add in the Earl`s loquacious father, full of authoritative bluster in the hands of Michael Cochrane, and a love-lorn French officer kept just the right side of ‘Allo `Allo by Nicholas Bishop, and there is silliness aplenty, a modicum of flippant wit, and a hint or two of coming social change for good measure.

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Dated but likeable comedy shot across the bows of the upper classes