Love in Idleness

Original London West End Production 1944

1st Original London West End Revival 2017


Play by Terence Rattigan. Returning from Canada after a four-year absence during the war, eighteen-year-old Michael is full of youthful ideology and leftist leanings. But he is shocked to find his widowed mother Olivia is now the mistress of cabinet minister Sir John Fletcher, enjoying a comfortable society life. When Michael and John clash, sparks fly and relationships are tested as everyone learns some difficult lessons in love.

Terence Rattigan radically revised his play Less Than Kind, retitling it Love in Idleness for it's West End Premiere in December 1944. For the 2017 revival Trevor Nunn went back to the original and used a mixture of both texts.

Terence Rattigan's other West End plays include The Browning Version, Cause Celebre, Deep Blue Sea, Flare Path, Harlequinade, Man and Boy, Separate Tables and The Winslow Boy.


Original London West End Production 1944

Opened 20 December 1944, Closed 23 June 1945 at the Lyric Theatre

The cast featured Lynn Fontanne as 'Olivia Brown' and Alfred Lunt as 'Sir John Fletcher' with Brian Nissen as 'Michael Brown', Kathleen Kent as 'Diana Fletcher', Peggie Dear as 'Miss Dell', Margaret Murray as 'Polton', Mona Harrison as 'Celia Wentworth', Frank Forder as 'Sir Thomas Markman' and Antoinette Keith as 'Lady Markman'. Directed by Alfred Lunt with sets by Michael Relph, costumes by H W Luker and lighting by Hamish Wilson.

The play was subsequently presented on Broadway under the title O Mistress Mine, again starring Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne and directed by Alfred Lunt (Empire Theatre (now demolished) opened on 23 January 1946 and closed on 31 May 1947).


1st Original London West End Revival 2017

Previewed 10 March 2017, Opened 20 March 2017, Closed on 29 April 2017 at the Menier Chocolate Factory
Previewed 11 May 2017, Opened 18 May 2017, Closed 1 July 2017 at the Apollo Theatre

A major revival of Terence Rattigan's comedy Love in Idleness in London starring Eve Best and Anthony Head and directed by Trevor Nunn - transferring to the West End following a sold-out run at the Menier Chocolate Factory

The cast features Eve Best as 'Olivia Brown' and Anthony Head as 'Sir John Fletcher' with Edward Bluemel as 'Michael Brown', Charlotte Spencer as 'Diana Fletcher', Vivienne Rochester as 'Miss Dell' and Nicola Sloane as 'Polton/Celia Wentworth'. Directed by Trevor Nunn with designs by Stephen Brimson-Lewis, lighting by Paul Pyant, video by Duncan McLean and sound by Gregory Clarke. This production transfers to the West End's Apollo Theatre following an acclaimed sold-run run at the Menier Chocolate Factory (previewed from 10 March 2017, opened on 20 March 2017 and closed on 29 April 2017).

When this production opened at the Menier Chocolate Factory in March 2017, Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph said that, watching it, "I became not only gripped by its ingenious fusion of domestic tragi-comedy and political debate but ever more seized by the conviction that this work has now entered the canon of must-do Rattigana... The pacing is superb. I never thought Iíd say this of a Trevor Nunn production but nearly three hours simply flies by." Suzi Feay in the Financial Times praised how "the brilliant Eve Best, with a thousand tiny gestures, fleeting expressions and tones, gives the already sparkling dialogue a coruscating force. Anthony Head is less focused but still touching as stiff, harried Sir John." Michael Billington in the Guardian though that, "whatever the playís flaws, the acting is a delight... In all itís a good evening that, in stitching together two different versions of the same play, shows Rattiganís capacity to mix genres and combine laughter and pain." Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail explained that "director Sir Trevor Nunn has been busy with his scissors and paste. He has taken two wartime Terence Rattigan plays and mixed them to create a nostalgic comedy. The result, though attractively acted is less than convincing... The script veers from dark-edged stoicism to a sub-Coward dottiness." Fiona Mountford in the London Evening Standard said that "the end result, unfortunately, is dismayingly lumpy and uncertain of tone ó a strange lurch into farce in the final act makes it seem more Ray Cooney than Terence Rattigan... Overall, though, it's idly uncompelling." Ann Treneman in the Times wrote that "there are many excellent things about this production, and Eve Best lives up to her surname. Others include Anthony Head as Sir John and Edward Bluemel as her son, Michael... The main problem, though, and it cannot be dismissed, is that the play, at 2 hours and 40 minutes, is too long for the hybrid this has become, a rom-com with pretensions of seriousness."

The cast for the Menier Chocolate Factory run featured Eve Best as 'Olivia Brown' and Anthony Head as 'Sir John Fletcher' with Edward Bluemel as 'Michael Brown', Helen George as 'Diana Fletcher', Vivienne Rochester as 'Miss Dell' and Nicola Sloane as 'Polton/Celia Wentworth'.

Love in Idleness in London at the Apollo Theatre previewed from 11 May 2017, opened on 18 May 2017 and closed on 1 July 2017