Follow Us on Twitter

Jermyn Street Theatre announces 1930s Autumn Season

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

JERMYN Street Theatre and Anthony Biggs have announced a season of rediscovered work to run from September to December 2014.

Comprising three plays by English playwrights, all first staged in 1933 and 1934, they are John van Druten’s lament to the fallen of World War One, Flowers of The Forest; the first ever revival of Terence Rattigan’s debut work, First Episode; and the first production in sixty years of Mordaunt Shairp’s controversial 1930s allusion to homosexuality, The Green Bay Tree.

John Van Druten’s Flowers of The Forest, directed by Anthony Biggs, opens the season and runs from September 23 to October 18.

A time shift work set in London in 1934 and in Sussex from 1914 to 1916, the play tells the story of the Jacklyn family torn apart by the Great War.

Tackling the issues of how the conflict had a long lasting and devastating effect on a whole generation, the play is a both a eulogy to those who fell and a testament to those who lived on without them.

John Van Drutten was one of the most popular playwrights of the inter-war and early post-war years and was best known for his works Bell, Book and Candle, which was later made into a film starring James Stewart and Kim Novak and his adaptation of Goodbye To Berlin by Christopher Isherwood – I am a Camera.

Flowers of The Forest is followed – from October 28 to November 22 – by the first revival of Terence Rattigan’s debut work First Episode, which was co-authored with Philip Heimann, is directed by Tom Littler and presented by Primavera.

Inspired by events from Rattigan’s own time in 1930s Oxford, First Episode is the story of a movie star’s appearance in a student play. The story charts the relationship of best friends Tony and David as their friendship is tested when Tony becomes besotted with the beautiful star Margot Gresham.

First Episode is one of the earliest plays to deal explicitly with homosexuality and marked the start of Rattigan’s glittering career.

Read more about First Episode.

Continuing the theme of unspoken sexuality, the season ends with Mordaunt Shairp’s 1930s study of gay desire and control, The Green Bay Tree, which runs from November 25 to December 20.

Produced by Evergreen Theatrical Productions, The Green Bay Tree tells the story of a beautiful young man as he is forced to choose between the love of his fiancée and the lifestyle of his male mentor. The work is a comedy of manipulation and self-repression. The orginal Broadway production launched Laurence Olivier’s American career as he played the lead opposite his then wife Jill Esmond.

Anthony Biggs became artistic Director of Jermyn Street Theatre in January 2013. His previous productions at the theatre include the recent South African Season, The Potsdam Quartet, the UK premiere of Ibsen’s St John’s Night, Charles Morgan’s The River Line, Ibsen’s Little Eyolf and the recent revival of Frederick Lonsdale’s On Approval.

The Autumn season builds on these and Jermyn Street Theatre’s other recent successes which include Maltby & Shire’s Closer Than Ever, Arthur Wing Pinero’s The Notorious Mrs Ebbsmith and Steven Berkoff’s Religion & Anarchy.

The summer season at Jermyn Street Theatre concludes with the first ever UK production of William Inge’s Natural Affection. Starring Lysette Anthony and directed by Grace Wessels, it opens on July 15.