Review: Flare Path, Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, until Saturday

A scene from Flare Path, which is being staged at the Theatre Royal, in Bury St Edmunds, this week.

A scene from Flare Path, which is being staged at the Theatre Royal, in Bury St Edmunds, this week. - Credit: Archant

The bravery of the Second World War bomber crews is drawn sharply into focus along with the torn loyalty and loves of one of the RAF pilot’s wives.

Does she leave her dashing, handsome husband and run off with her ex-lover ... or will she remain loyal to the man who takes to the skies on raids against the enemy across the water?

Terence Rattigan’s drama, presented by The Original Theatre Company and Birdsong Productions, is set in 1942 against the backdrop of quiet bravery in wartime Britain and has a mix of heartache, soul searching, loyalty ... and a spinkling of humour.

Based on Rattigan’s own experiences as a tail gunner, it’s the story of former actress Patricia Warren, played by Hedydd Dylan, whose ex-lover and Hollywood idol Peter Kyle (Lynden Edwards) arrives out of the blue at the Falcon Hotel, close to the airfield, throwing her emotions and marriage to Flight Lieutenant Teddy Graham (Daniel Fraser) into turmoil.

The cast also includes Graham Seed, who fans of The Archers will know as Nigel Pargetter, as Squadron Leader Swanson.

The story centres round the love triangle between Patricia, her year-long marriage to her husband, and the sudden arrival of Peter.

But cleverly mixed into the theme of the storyline is the adorable relationship between former blonde barmaid Countess Doris Skriczevinsky (Claire Andreadis) who is swept off her feet by Polish airman Flying Officer Count Skriczevinsky (William Reay).

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Then there is the quirky husband and wife team of dour rear gunner Sergeant Dusty Miller (Jamie Hogarth) and Maudie Miller (Polly Hughes), the forthright Mrs Oakes (Audrey Palmer), who runs the hotel, and barman Percy (Charlie G Hawkins) who is always keen to know what action is taking place.

A for Apple “goes down” as the squadron of four aircraft take off on another daring raid into enemy-held territory.

But what’s the fate of the three other bombers and will they all return safely from another crucial sortie.

One famed film star wants his ex-lover to run off with him but can she leave her brave husband behind as he battles his fears in the skies and the frightening guns aimed at him from the ground and the enemy fighter planes?

The tension mounts in this superb production as the three wives see off their loved ones and await their return.

Flare Path continues at the Theatre Royal for the rest of the week with the final two performances on Saturday.