The Deep Blue Sea by Terrence Rattigan

I first heard of The Deep Blue Sea when pictures of Rachel Weisz filming in London back in 2010. As the movie got a release date, I decided to read the play on which it was based before seeing it. Needless to say, the movie being an independent production got a pretty small release, but a tie-in re-edition of the play came out just in time.

From The Book Depository:

Written in the early fifties when Rattigan was at the height of his powers, The Deep Blue Sea is a powerful account of lives blighted by love – or the lack of it. Special film tie-in edition published alongside the release of The Deep Blue Sea film (2011), starring Rachel Weisz and Tom Hiddleston.

The play is short and makes an engaging reading. I am a big fan of modern theater (from Ibsen onwards) both to read and watch: I think they have the most complex, interesting and fun to play female characters. Probably because they are created to be staged during 2 hours, they need to create a character, engage them on an action and provide an ending that they are so intense and passionate readers for me.

In The Deep Blue Sea, Hester Collier- the main character is a middle-aged woman in 1950 London married to an older man, a respectable judge whose marriage is dull, more a companionship than a marriage as we would understand it nowadays. But then she meets Freddie Page, an ex RAF pilot and she falls – in Weisz’ own words – “deeply, utterly in love”. They elope and she starts to call herself “Mrs. Page”. The play takes place some months after this happens, while Hester revisits their love affair and the consequences of it.

As you can imagine, Hester is a very attractive and complex character. She left her husband for a younger, more passionate man, leaving besides social conventions. Somehow, you get the feeling she did not have a choice: her character transmits desperation and the need to be with that person you love at all costs. In the process, she loses everything and Rattigan explores that passionate love from Hester’s point of view. Of course this posts a lots of question for the reader about love, self-respect, pride, social conventions and above all, strength.

The movie is not as faithful as one may expect but is nonetheless brilliant. Rachel Weisz is – in my humble opinion the most talented actress out there nowadays and she makes a great Hester, probably because she does not judge her. During the press conferences, she admitted to liking Hester and understanding that type of guttural even self-destructive love and the strength that is needed to accept it and challenge social norms and expectations.

I would recommend this play to anyone who enjoys reading plays, but also to those in search for a complex female character to make them think and question their beliefs. If you do not like reading plays, the movie is great as well and Rachel offers an Academy Award-worth performance.

2 thoughts on “The Deep Blue Sea by Terrence Rattigan

  1. This sounds fantastic! You know I love stories about ladies challenging social conventions 🙂

    I’ll have to look up this play and/or the movie!

    1. Send me an email if you watch the movie. Rachel is rumoured to be nominated for an Academy Award for this role (they’d better give it to her, she’s amazing).

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