The Deep Blue Sea at Guildford’s Mill Studio – theatre review

PUBLISHED: 08:41 22 June 2017

Edward Funnell and Gaynor Arnold in The Deep Blue Sea

Edward Funnell and Gaynor Arnold in The Deep Blue Sea


Guildford’s newest theatre company, TTA Productions, perform Terence Rattigan’s The Deep Blue Sea at the Mill Studio. Surrey Life art editor Tinx Newton watches on

Written by Terence Rattigan in 1952, The Deep Blue Sea is a play that depends on good pace and strong characterisation to keep its audience’s attention. With a wonderful, but wordy script, innovative direction is also important.

All these qualities were found in a new production by Guildford’s newly formed TTA Productions and hence the three night run at the Mill Studio, from Thursday June 15 to Saturday June 17, quickly sold out as word spread.

Set in a flat in Ladbroke Grove circa 1952, the action begins when Hester Collyer is found semi-conscious by her landlady and neighbour following her attempted suicide. We quickly learn her desperation is due to a tempestuous affair with former RAF pilot Freddie Page and the consequent breakdown of her marriage to high Court judge, William Collyer. Hester’s intense love for Freddie is seemingly unrequited, which results in her complete despair.

Hester is a role that many actresses yearn to play, and such was the case for Gaynor Arnold who played her with great sensitivity. She conveyed well Hester’s feelings of failure and worthlessness, her shame at a failed attempt at suicide, and her intense need for Freddie’s love.

Jonathan Blakely was a terrific Freddie, portraying the balance between emotional damage and a hint of danger with apparent vulnerability. Edward Funnell played a natural and affable Collyer, and, with a great supporting cast, this was a truly gripping production.

TTA’s inaugural production was produced by Mark Ralston and Edward Funnell and with assured direction from ex-GSA principal Michael Gaunt, this was a great spring board for Surrey’s new theatre company.

• TTA Productions helped to raise money for Guildford Samaritans with The Deep Blue Sea at the Mill Studio, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Millbrook, Guildford, Surrey GU1 3UX. Visit their website for what’s next on the production line

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