Celebrating Rattigan

THE ARUNDEL Players join in this year’s Rattigan centenary celebrations with their Arundel Festival production.

Chichester’s Dorothy Olney is the director for Rattigan’s The Sleeping Prince at the Priory Playhouse, London Road, Arundel, from until Saturday, August 27 at 7.45pm.

It’s a piece with great personal significance for Dorothy.

“It was the first play I saw when I moved to London in the 1950s. It was Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, and I remember thinking how charming it was. You can imagine moving from mid-Wales and this was the first thing I saw. It was a bit of a knock-out!

“And then it was filmed as The Prince And The Showgirl with Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier, but as often with films, I think that they lose something of the original charm.

“When we were thinking about doing a Rattigan for the centenary, I wondered whether this one would have dated, but it hasn’t at all.

“It takes place in the Carpathian embassy in the time of the coronation of King George V. The Prince Regent is here for the coronation and has asked the Foreign Office to provide him with a showgirl to entertain him to supper in inverted commas! And it develops from there really.

“It’s a comedy. It’s quite rare for Rattigan to write comedies like this. It’s a very good contrast to the Rattigan which is at Chichester Festival Theatre, The Deep Blue Sea which is certainly one of the deeper ones! There is not much let-up. I am offering the antidote to The Deep Blue Sea!”

As ever, though, with Rattigan, it’s the quality of the writing that impresses: “I think it is timeless.

“The themes come back again and again. It’s also the characters, particularly in the play we are doing. There is a wonderful comic character in the Grand Duchess who I think rivals Mrs Malaprop and Lady Bracknell.

“Rattigan contributed a tremendous amount. I am very pleased that he is coming back to public knowledge.”

Tickets on 07523 417926.