Known throughout his life as Dick, Gerardus Dusseldorp had just come to Australia and created Civil and Civic (later Lend Lease) when, in July 1955, the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust was launched with a gala performance at the restored & renamed Elizabethan Theatre in Newtown. Established by Robert Menzies to commemorate the Queen’s first visit, the AETT’s first season consisted of two dramas by Terrence Rattigan: The Sleeping Prince and Separate Tables. At that point, Rattigan’s greatest success had been The Deep Blue Sea now being revived by the Sydney Theatre Company (Feb 4- Mar 7) starring Dusseldorp’s granddaughter Marta.
That first season in 1955 was an intensely British affair. Rattigan was the pre-eminent playwright and screen writer of the time. The cast, extremely distinguished, included Sir Ralph Richardson and his wife, Meriel Forbes with Dame Sybil Thorndike and her husband, Sir Lewis Casson. The Deep Blue Sea , written by Rattigan in 1952, just before The Sleeping Prince, is believed to be based on the breakup of his secret relationship with Kenny Morgan. From a notable family and a product of his time, Rattigan saw himself as an outsider, his plays focussed on sexual frustration and failed relationships.
Marta Dusseldorp will star as Hester, wife of a High Court judge, in a doomed affair with Freddie, a dashing fighter pilot. A welcome opportunity to experience Rattigan’s ‘well made play’.
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