Man and Boy

Previewed 1 February 2005, Opened 7 February 2005, Closed 16 April 2005 Duchess Theatre in London

A major revival of Terence Rattigan's play Man and Boy in London starring David Suchet and directed by Maria Aitken.

Rattigan's 1963 play Man and Boy, set in 1930's New York, confronts the relationship between a father and son against a backdrop of love, betrayal and high finance. The powerful financier Gregor Antonescu visits his estranged son, Basil, at his Greenwich Village apartment in New York in an attempt to extricate himself from the most catastrophic disaster of his career. After newspaper headlines report that the FBI are looking for Gregor, one by one his wife and business associates desert him. Only his son refuses to leave...

The cast for Man and Boy in London stars David Suchet as 'Gregor Antonescu' along with Ben Silverstone, David Yelland, Colin Stinton, Helen Grace, Jennifer Lee Jellicorse and Will Huggins. The production is directed by Maria Aitken with designs by Simon Higlett, lighting by Mick Hughes and sound and music by Howard Davidson. Terence Rattigan's West End credits include Harlequinade, The Browning Version, Flare Path, Cause Celebre, The Winslow Boy, The Deep Blue Sea and Separate Tables.

"A shiveringly good performance from David Suchet as a razor-nasty tycoon who bullies his softie of a son... From the moment of Mr Suchet's entrance the evening fizzes. He twirls his wrists and flexes his magnificent voice. This is a huge performance, easily squashing the few moments of outdated dramatisation... This is a satisfying, admirably old-fashioned evening's performance." The Daily Mail

"If only Sir Terence Rattigan could have heard the cheers ringing around the theatre last night... only now, and for the very first time, has anyone got this play right. David Suchet rightly plays Antonescu as a charismatic tycoon of immense, mesmeric evil while the actress Maria Aitken directed, using not just the play as published but many earlier drafts. Yet it would be wrong to think of this solely as a drama for Rattigan addicts. This one is not just about the financial shenanigans of the late 1920s; its less obvious themes are homosexuality and the father-son relationship which were Rattigan obsessions, for reasons deeply buried in his own make-up... But if the stars here are director Aitken and Suchet, they are brilliantly supported by Ben Silverstone as the increasingly disenchanted son and David Yelland, as the tycoon's personal assistant with Helen Grace as the typist he has turned into a countess. It is a cracklingly emotional thriller." The Daily Express

"A considerable actor can make a great difference and, as his powerfully sardonic portrait of a bent financier shows, David Suchet is more than considerable. The play isn't a masterpiece, but this marvellous actor left me agreeing with Bernard Levin, who back in 1963 stood out from the critical pack and praised Rattigan for his "dramatic cunning, narrative power and above all his restless imaginative curiosity about the springs of human activity". Thanks to his theatrical alchemy, a potentially leaden play glistens with life... If you inspect the plot too closely, it seems faintly absurd... But at the Duchess you don't inspect it too closely. You're happy with the acting of all Maria Aitken's cast, but you're riveted by Suchet." The Times

"While those of us who rate Rattigan cannot help but be intrigued by anything he wrote, Man And Boy falls vastly short of Terence Rattigan's best. It concerns that familiar Rattigan theme of having an amoral monster for a father, as Rattigan himself did. Set in New York in 1934, the man of the title, Gregory Antonescu, shares an almost spooky history with Robert Maxwell. He dragged himself out of a Romanian gutter to become a stellar business tycoon, but now hovers on the brink of failure. The boy is his illegitimate son, Basil, who plays the piano in a crummy bar and hasn't spoken to his father since an explosive fallout on his 18th birthday five years before. And yet, when Antonescu turns up out of the blue, asking if he can hold a meeting with a business associate in Basil's bohemian apartment, Basil is clearly moved by the way his father picks out a particular shirt for him to wear. It's not until halfway through his father's negotiations with the secretly gay businessman, however, that Basil realises how he is being used. The situation is compelling enough, but the play sags beneath an implausible plot which has nowhere to go. The single reason for seeing this uneven production is David Suchet's devilishly good portrait of the manipulative and seductive Antonescu." The Mail on Sunday

Man and Boy in London at the Duchess Theatre previewed from 1 February, opened on 7 February 2005 and closed on 16 April 2005.