Ambassadors Theatre – until 1 September 2018
I must admit to wondering how I would sit through two and a half hours of a play about the weather? But on seeing the previous run reviews at both Chichester and the Park Theatre, something told me I just had to see Pressure. My dad, who is now in his 80s, outlined the story, and I thought to myself, when you think about it we Brits just love talking about the weather don’t we?
Written by playwright and actor David Haig, the play tells the story of how D-Day was influenced by the weather and in particular the air pressure influencing strong winds and heavy rain. The impact of such poor weather would have resulted in a huge number of unnecessary deaths had Eisenhower kept to 5 June as being D-Day. I don’t feel I’m spoiling the plot because surely we all know the actual date of the D-Day landings?
After seeing the play, I then had so many thoughts going through my mind, that I’ve struggled to write them down concisely enough, without losing you. So here it goes.
Firstly it struck me, although I was thoroughly engrossed, that the title, whilst it may put off some people, is actually very clever, relating to several ‘pressures’ contained within the story. The dangerously high blood pressure of Dr James Stagg’s wife, immense pressures felt by Stagg and Eisenhower to minimise the death toll. These are just a couple of reasons why the play is named Pressure along with the obvious weather connotations.
You may now be wondering why this play had such a big effect on me? It’s quite simple really, it’s the knowledge, the depth and seriously well-written script, which is exceptionally delivered by its cast. I felt the pressures of Malcolm Sinclair’s Eisenhower. The worry and weight of the nation upon Stagg’s (David Haig) shoulders, to ensure the readings were right and to convince Eisenhower to delay.
However, the story is so much more than this, there are other stories contained within if you look deeper. Power struggles, the perception of women in the workplace. Even a love affair which causes someone to actually wish it wasn’t the beginning of the end. Which leads me to mentioning Kay Summersby played by Laura Rogers. In today’s world her worth would be recognised, but then, whilst secretly knowing that she played a vital role in the war effort, it was outwardly contained to making sure the officers were either catered for, driven or organised. It was great to see the total understanding, of the role. I felt her heartbreak, at the harsh realisation that she had served her purpose in the end.
I could actually go on, instead, I would simply implore you to go and see this show. It’s clever, witty, exceptionally well-written, outstandingly acted and kept my attention throughout. Even knowing the outcome, I was fascinated and gripped until the very end. Undoubtedly, one of the best productions I’ve seen, or likely to see this year – Go see!