Secret Rapture

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Previewed 17 November 2003, opened 26 November 2003, closed 21 February 2004 at the Lyric Theatre in London

A major revival David Hare's 1988 play Secret Rapture in London starring Belinda Lang, Jenny Seagrove and Simon Shepherd and directed by Guy Retallack.

With the death of their father, two estranged sisters - Marion, a hard-nosed Thatcherite government minister, and Isobel a warm-hearted liberal - forge an uneasy reconciliation. As they try to put their father's affairs into order, the sisters must deal with the burden of their emotionally scarred, alcoholic young stepmother Katherine. Isobel, always the magnanimous one, reluctantly gives Katherine a job in her graphic design company. It is an act of kindness that turns out to be highly destructive. As a result of Katherine's manipulation, Isobel's career and personal life dissolve into chaos and violence.

The cast for this production of Secret Rapture in London features Belinda Lang as 'Marion', Jenny Seagrove as 'Isobel' and Liza Walker as 'Katherine' along with Simon Shepherd, Peter Egan and Melanie Gutteridge. The production is produced by Bill Kenwright and directed by Guy Retallack. NOTE: Age recommendation 13+ (contains strong language). Jenny Seagrove's West End credits include William Gibson's The Miracle Worker and Richard Harris' Dead Guilty.

"What a difference a decade or two make. Fifteen years ago, Sir David Hare's play was a blistering commentary on public and private morality in Thatcher's Britain. Now it is a bleak comedy; dramatic rapture is now comic rupture, the characters more like caricatures. A bookseller has died. His daughter Marion is a Tory junior minister who cannot forgive her sister for being so non-judgmental and nice all the time. Good sister Isobel feels a duty to help her dad's floosie widow, a raving alcoholic, by giving her a job in her design business. Bad sister Marion asset strips the business. It all ends in tears as Isobel loses everything - even her floppy-haired boyfriend. Hare's play was once a tragedy for our times. Now, as a funny-sour comment on the sheer awfulness of families, it has got fresh legs." The Daily Express

"In David Hare's The Secret Rapture an elderly bookseller dies, and his daughters, Isobel and Marion, are left with the problem of what to do about Katherine, their youngish alcoholic stepmother. Isobel, who runs a small design firm, is kind and good. Marion is bad - so bad that she is a junior minister in the Thatcher government. Marion persuades Isobel to give Katherine a job, but like many of Isobel's good deeds it leads to unintended grief. The play itself is of small merit but some historical interest... it is chiefly remarkable for the crude colours and clumsy workmanship with which Marion is portrayed. She is a glaring, life-denying harpy, and poor Isobel, inevitably pales beside her." The Sunday Telegraph

"This could be one of the most important revivals of the year. David Hare's 1988 play is about loyalties and betrayals, destruction and preservation, the value of things and the values of people... In Guy Retallack's calm but harrowing production, the play becomes a battle of two sisters. Marion has energy, anger, hunger, and Lang brings out all her icy obtuseness. Isobel is addicted to loyalty and integrity: they are like an armour that both protects her and hurts her... This is a deeply English play, politically anti-Conservative but morally conservative and humane, and that gives it a tragic resonance. The last scene is overwritten, almost superfluous, but the final effect is pity and terror: two old friends you seldom meet in contemporary plays." The Sunday Times

"Fifteen years on, David Hare's 1988 play Secret Rapture about the greed-is-good culture of Thatcher's Britain strikes me as dated and feeble and, in Guy Retallack's sluggish production, twice as long and laboured as it might have been. Marion is a Tory Minister, a stereotypical Thatcherite witch, acquisitive and uncaring. Her sister, Isobel, is the flip-side, selfless and generous. Following their father's death, the sisters' attitudes are tested by their predatory stepmother, Katherine, a confused, volatile alcoholic. In the programme, Hare states that his 'magnificent' theme is that good people bring out the worst in us. He can say that again. Poor Jenny Seagrove in the unenviable part of the priggish martyr, Isobel, enraged me almost to strangling point. As did Hare's simplistic idea that small companies are inevitably destroyed by expansion. Even the would-be amusing portrait of the chairman of Christians In Business, played by Peter Egan, seems out of place and out of time." The Mail on Sunday

Secret Rapture in London at the Lyric Theatre previewed from 17 November 2003, opened on 26 November 2003 and closed on 21 February 2004.