Cause Celebre

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Previewed 17 March 2011, Opened 29 March 2011, Closed 11 June 2011 at the Old Vic Theatre in London

A major revival of Terence Rattigan's final play Cause Celebre in London directed by Thea Sharrock.

Based on the true story of 38-year-old Alma Rattenbury who, in 1935, went on trial with her 18-year-old chauffer for the murder of her rich 67-year-old husband, Francis Rattenbury, a retired architect, in Bournemouth. Condemned by the public more for her seduction of a young boy than for any involvement she may have had in her husband's death, Alma's fate is left in the hands of the socially and sexually repressed jury forewoman, Edith. Cause Célèbre is an intriguing tale of love, betrayal, guilt and obsession. This production is presented by The Old Vic Theatre in London to celebrate the centenary year of Terence Rattigan's birth in June 1911.

The cast for Cause Celebre in London features as Anne-Marie Duff as 'Alma Rattenbury' along with Tommy McDonnell as 'George', Niamh Cusack as 'Edith Davenport', Jenny Galloway as 'Irene Rigs' and Nicholas Jones as 'O'Connor' with Lucy Black, Tristram Carlton, Simon Chandler, Richard Clifford, Oliver Coopersmith, Rory Fleck-Byrne, Freddie Fox, Patrick Godfrey, Lucy Robinson, Tristan Shepherd, Richard Teverson, Sarah Waddell and Michael Webber. The production is directed by Thea Sharrock with designs by Hildegard Bechtler, lighting by Bruno Poet, mmusic by Adrian Johnston and sound by Ian Dickinson. Terence Rattigan's West End credits include The Browning Version, Flare Path, The Winslow Boy, Man and Boy, Harlequinade, The Deep Blue Sea and Separate Tables.

"Here, it's not so much a whodunnit as a whydunnit, and a brilliant, incisive portrait of morality and society in the finest Rattigan style... Overall, it's a fine production of a play whose capacity to provoke debate and dissent is only a mark of its stature. Most of your typical middle-class London theatregoing audience will murmur with approval and relief at the way it attacks the middle classes, while the odd puritanical curmudgeon will see it more as a morality play, albeit of many layers and subtleties. Either way, it is richly satisfying; and, as in many murder trials, there are disconcertingly funny moments along the way. In real life, incidentally, George Stoner spent seven years in jail before his release, then soldiered bravely through the D-day landings, and had to endure the whole case being staged again in 1977, when he was still only 60. He spent a quiet and peaceful retirement in Bournemouth, and died in 2000." The Sunday Times

"The playwright Terence Rattigan spotted this real-life cause celebre as an ideal starting point for examining English repression, middle-class morality, hypocrisy, chauvinism - themes he consistently returned to - but it wasn't until 1977 that he managed it. Cause Celebre looks back in anger... Director Thea Sharrock, whose revival of After The Dance was one of the theatrical highlights of last year, evidently has a way with Rattigan. Her clever staging avoids clunky scene changes by simply lighting up a part of a vast acting space and allowing characters to share the same drinks cabinets... While Cause Celebre doesn't have the brilliance of Rattigan's courtroom drama The Winslow Boy, and you don't need the handkerchiefs essential for Flare Path, this is a potent piece exceptionally well performed. A cause for celebration indeed." The Mail on Sunday

Thea Sharrock said: "Having just directed Terence Rattigan's second play, After The Dance, I am thrilled now to be part of his centenary celebrations next year with his last play, Cause Célèbre. And I can't think of a better stage for it than the historic Old Vic, a first for me as well as for him."

Terence Rattigan said: "I was 24 at the time. I'd just written French Without Tears and it was being turned down by every management in London; suddenly this trial hit the papers and I was fascinated by it. Two people were charged, Alma and a young manservant, with the murder of her rich elderly husband, and it was the first double trial in legal history where the defendants tried to exonerate each other and take all the blame on to themselves. The defence lawyers hadn't understood that they where in love and got terribly confused by the whole thing." Cause Célèbre was premiered on BBC Radio in October 1975 starring Diana Dors. Terence Rattigan then adapted the play for the stage and it was presented in July 1977 at Her Majesty's Theatre in London's West End in a production starring Glynis Johns which run for eight months.

Cause Celebre in London at the Old Vic Theatre previewed from 17 March 2011, opened on 29 March 2011 and closed on 11 June 2011.