Flare Path, Darlington Civic – Tues 12 – Sat 16 AprilPrint Page
Review BY NCTJ Journalism student David Burton
Described by Winston Churchill as a “masterpiece of understatement”, Terence Rattigan’s ‘Flare path’ depicts the heartache of a dynamic love triangle played out over one agonisingly long night during a World War Two air raid.
Written in 1941, as the German Luftwaffe soared overhead obliterating large swathes of the country in the process, Rattigan recounts his own experiences as a tail gunner in Bomber Command, to give a moving insight into the true essence of British spirit shown by not only the men fighting in the skies, but the women who waited for their heroes on the ground.
However, when Hollywood heartthrob Peter Kyle (Lynden Edwards) arrives at the Lincolnshire airbase in a desperate attempt to whisk old flame Patricia Warren (Hedydd Dylan) away from RAF pilot, Teddy (Daniel Fraser), the budding actress is forced to make the most difficult of choices. Does she run off with her Prince Charming? Or does she stay with her new husband who can only continue in his death-defying job with her unconditional love and support.
The events of war can also forge some unlikely bonds, such as that between the Polish Count Skriczevinsky (William Reay) and ditsy Cornish barmaid Doris (Claire Andreadis), who in particular demonstrates a remarkable resilience in unimaginably difficult circumstances.
The cast is headlined by The Archers stalwart Graham Seed, who plays the squadron leader inexplicably nicknamed “Gloria”, along with waiter Percy (played by EastEnders’ Charlie Hawkins), who in his naivety does not seem to fully appreciate the dangers faced by the pilots he looks up to.
And with over 55,000 mostly young pilots killed fighting Nazi Germany (nearly a 45 per cent fatality rate), ‘Flare Path’ most importantly of all offers a tangible reminder of those dangers, ensuring that 75 years on, the courageous exploits of Bomber Command are not forgotten.