Felix Cat


The student newspaper of Imperial College London

Menu Icon


Issue 1785 (PDF)
The student newspaper of Imperial College London

Keep the Cat Free

The sun is shining in Richmond for Rattigan's Revival

While the Sun Shines’s triumphant run back in 2019 was so well-received that it returns to the Orange Tree Theatre once again

Photo: Ali Wright


in Issue 1785


While the Sun Shines

★ ★ ★ ★
Orange Tree Theatre
Until 18th January 2021

While the Sun Shines’s triumphant run back in 2019 was so well-received that it returns to the Orange Tree Theatre once again. Back in 2019, it was the first major London revival of playwright Terrence Rattigan’s comedic hit. Playing over 1000 performances in the West End when it premiered at the Globe in 1943, it was Rattigan’s biggest commercial success, but seldom seen on such a scale since. 

The plot revolves around the young Earl of Harpenden, or Bobby to his friends, and his impending marriage to the naïve but sweet Lady Elisabeth. On the eve of his wedding, chaotic circumstances bring several unforeseen visitors into his apartment – notably, a brash American bombardier and French lieutenant. Hilarity ensures as identities get confused and both guests accidentally set their sights on Bobby’s fiancé. To complicate matters further, his butler consistently flits in and out, and Bobby’s ex-flame Mabel Crum, as well as his future father-in-law turn up to the apartment, creating a middle act brimming with laughter, life, and silliness.

It is wonderfully played, with seven flawless cast members, great chemistry, and no weak links. Philip Labey plays a charming version of Bobby, countered by the brashness of Conor Glean as the American and Jordan Mifsúd’s explosive Frenchman. For me, a special mention goes to Sophie Khan Levy playing the brilliant Mabel Crum, who really brings the writing of her character to life. Mabel Crum feels ahead of her time – a self-proclaimed “trollop”, she says, “I do it for the men, not the money”, owning her existence as a smart, independent woman who revels in her freedom and doesn’t feel the pressure to be married to a man.

Director Paul Miller masters the circular staging, with the actors’ mid-speech movements feeling natural without any audience member ever having to look at the back of an actor’s head for too long. Simon Daw’s set design creates the right sense of grandeur for an Earl’s London apartment, without making the space feel cluttered, and works wonderfully in tandem with Elizabeth Purcell’s sound design, weaving in with light classical music of the time.

I found myself unexpectedly enjoying the witty banter and entertaining back and forth between characters, despite the fact it isn’t my usual sort of humour. If you fancy a light-hearted night out in the lovely setting of Richmond’s Orange Tree Theatre, I recommend giving this one a go.

Also in this issue...

Top Stories