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Variation on a Theme - Finborough Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THE FIRST production in more than fifty years of Terence Rattigan’s Variation on a Theme runs at Finborough Theatre for a strictly limited four-week season – from Tuesday, February 25 to Saturday, March 22, 2014.

Michael Oakley directs a cast led by twice Olivier Award nominated Rachael Stirling.

Inspired by La Dame aux Camelias, and set amidst the glamorous and exotic society of the 1950’s French Riviera, Variation on a Theme revolves around the tempestuous love affair between Rose, a beautiful and worldly socialite, and Ron, a young bisexual ballet dancer with a keen eye for social advancement.

In an emotionally charged story of desire and disillusionment, Rose is persuaded by Ron’s choreographer and mentor, Sam, to sacrifice her personal happiness for the sake of her young lover’s success and career. But as Rose’s health deteriorates, and Ron is faced with the loveless reality of their separation, they finally face up to their need to be needed…

A forgotten classic by “one of the supreme dramatists of the 20th century” (Michael Billington, The Guardian), this will be the first production of the play anywhere in the world since its original 1958 premiere, when it was directed by John Gielgud and starred Margaret Leighton and Jeremy Brett.

Rachael Stirling’s theatre credits include Medea (UK Tour), The Recruiting Officer (Donmar Warehouse), An Ideal Husband (Vaudeville Theatre), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Rose Theatre, Kingston), The Priory (Royal Court Theatre), Pygmalion (Theatre Royal Bath and Japan), Uncle Vanya (Wilton’s Music Hall), Look Back In Anger (Theatre Royal Bath) and Tamburlaine (Bristol Old Vic).

On television, she has appeared in The Bletchley Circle, Doctor Who, Boy Meets Girl and Tipping the Velvet.

Michael Oakley is a recipient of the JMK Award for Young Directors for which he directed Edward II at Battersea Arts Centre. In 2012, he was Co-Artistic Director of Chichester Festival Theatre’s pop-up space Theatre on the Fly. His directing credits include Playhouse Creatures (Chichester Festival Theatre), The Changeling (Southwark Playhouse), Shooting Truth (NT Connections) and Graceland (The 24 Hour Plays: Old Vic New Voices).

As Associate Director his work includes Relative Values (Theatre Royal Bath and UK tour), Kiss Me Kate (The Old Vic), The King’s Speech (West End and UK tour) and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (Chichester Festival Theatre and West End).

Playwright Terence Rattigan (1911 – 1977) was born in South Kensington, close to the Finborough Theatre. As well as Variation on a Theme his many classic plays include French Without Tears, After The Dance, Flare Path, While The Sun Shines, The Winslow Boy, The Browning Version, Harlequinade, The Deep Blue Sea, The Sleeping Prince, Separate Tables, Ross, Man And Boy, A Bequest To The Nation, In Praise Of Love and Cause Célèbre.

He also wrote screenplays for such classic films as The Way To The Stars, Journey Together, While the Sun Shines, The Winslow Boy, The Browning Version, The Prince And The Showgirl, Separate Tables, The Sound Barrier, The Deep Blue Sea, The VIPs and The Yellow Rolls Royce, and collaborated on The Quiet Wedding, The Day Will Dawn and Brighton Rock. His television plays include Heart To Heart, Adventure Story and High Summer.

Terence Rattigan was awarded a CBE in 1958, and knighted in 1971.

The cast of Variation on a Theme also includes Emma Amos, Rebecca Birch, Phil Cheadle, Jamie Coleman, Martin McCreadie, David Shelley and Susan Tracy.

Presented by HPZ Productions in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre, Variation on a Theme is designed by Fotini Dimou, with lighting by Matt Eagland and sound by Max Pappenheim.

Tickets: Weeks One and Two (February 25 to March 9) – £16, £12 concessions, except Tuesday evenings £12 all seats and Saturday evenings £16 all seats. £6 tickets for under 30s for performances from Tuesday to Sunday of the first week when booked online only. £11 tickets for residents of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea on the first Saturday of the run only. Weeks Three and Four (March 11 to March 22) – £18, £16 concessions, except Tuesday evenings £16 all seats and Saturday evenings £18 all seats. To book, call the box office on 0844 847 1652 or visit

Times: Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm; Sunday matinees at 3pm; Saturday matinees at 3pm (from the second week of the run).

Carthage, Chris Thompson’s debut play that pieces together a boy’s life and death in care, continues at Finborough Theatre until February 22, 2014. Also at Finborough (Sunday, Mondays and Tuesdays only): The Domino Heart, starring Amanda Hale.