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Rattigan's First Episode - Jermyn Street Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

PRIMAVERA’S third production for 2014 and its second at Jermyn Street Theatre is First Episode. A first ever revival of Terence Rattigan’s first play, co-authored with Philip Heimann, it runs from October 30 (previews from October 28) to November 22, 2014.

Written in 1933 when Rattigan was still a student at Oxford University, First Episode is based on the true story of a movie star’s appearance in an Oxford student play. It premiered at the Q Theatre and transferred to the West End and Broadway in 1934.

Tony and David have been best friends throughout their time at university, but does their loyalty go deeper than ordinary friendship? When Tony falls in love with the beautiful movie star Margot Gresham, in Oxford to appear in a play with the undergraduates, their relationship is put to the test.

Described as both touching and uproariously funny, First Episode is one of the earliest plays to deal explicitly with homosexuality, and for lovers of Rattigan’s work it is a fascinating experience to see the first fruits of his creativity.

Playwright Terence Rattigan was born in 1911. After the success of First Episode at the age of 22, he went on to become one of the foremost playwrights and screenwriters of the 20th century, with work including Flare Path, The Browning Version, The Deep Blue Sea, French Without Tears, Separate Tables, The Winslow Boy, Cause Celebre and After the Dance. Many of his plays have been revived to great acclaim in recent years at the National Theatre, Old Vic and in the West End. He was knighted in 1971 and died in 1977.

Primavera’s Artistic Director Tom Littler directs. His recent work includes the premiere of Dances of Death (Gate Theatre), Good Grief with Penelope Keith (Theatre Royal Bath and tour), A Little Night Music (Budapest) and Murder in the Cathedral (Oxford Playhouse).

His productions for Primavera include The Living Room, Bloody Poetry and Anyone Can Whistle (Jermyn Street Theatre), Saturday Night (Arts Theatre), the premiere of Shiverman and the European premiere of Madagascar (Theatre503) and Antigone (Southwark Playhouse).

Littler was Associate Director of the Peter Hall Company for three years, and worked four times as Trevor Nunn’s associate. He is Associate Director of Theatre503.

Tickets: £22 full price, £18 concessions – available from the box office on 020 7287 2875 or online at

Times: Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm; Saturday matinee at 3.30pm.

Primavera’s other productions for 2014 were: Pinero’s The Notorious Mrs Ebbsmith, which ran at Jermyn Street Theatre from Tuesday, April 8 to Saturday, May 3, and the first revival in over 25 years of Jean-Jacques Bernard’s Martine, which ran at the Finborough Theatre from Tuesday, April 22 to Saturday, May 17, 2014.

This year, Jermyn Street Theatre celebrates its twentieth anniversary. The autumn season is a celebration of British work of the 1930s and also includes the current revival of John Van Drutten’s Flowers of The Forest, starring Sophie Ward, and the first production in sixty years of Mordaunt Shairp’s controversial 1930s allusion to homosexuality – The Green Bay Tree.