LAST year the younger members of Duns Players astounded the audience at Duns Volunteer Hall with a mature and powerful performance of ‘Brylcreem Boys’ that was beyond their years and spurred on by the rave reviews they are back hoping to garner the same response with their latest offering.
Like in 2011 when money was raised for Help for Heroes, the Players are once again doing their bit for a charity with a one off performance on Remembrance Day, Sunday, November 11, with funds this time going to the RAF Benevolent Fund.
And there couldn’t be a more fitting charity giving the plot of the play they’re turning their talents to, Terence Rattigan’s ‘Flare Path’.
Written in 1941 and first staged in 1942, the play is set in a hotel near an RAF Bomber Command airbase during the Second World War and centres around a love triangle between a pilot, his actress wife and a Hollywood star.
And although its not known whether he was involved in any such romantic liaisons himself, Rattigan was best placed to draw on the backdrop of conflict, having been in combat himself.
“It’s said that when the bomber he was in was hit and began to lose height he tore out the pages of ‘Flare Path’ he’d been working of and stuffed them in his pocket,” director John Schofield told ‘The Guide’.
The play enjoyed a West End revival in 2011 with Sheridan Smith and Sienna Miller in two of the leading roles but John said the largely teenage cast have shown they are more than capable of displaying the maturity required.
“There are themes in ‘Flare Path’ that everyone can relate to. One of the strongest ones is loyalty; which the cast can understand. and also a number of characters display a real sense of duty throughout.
“There’s a great contrast between one of the female characters who is devoted to her duties in the laundry and Hollywood star Peter who only seems to think about himself.
“A lot of the cast appeared in ‘Brylcreem Boys’ last year; then they were looking at the strain of war on young minds.
“Now there’s the theme of adult relationships and even though some of them are still under 18 they’ve found the maturity to convey the emotions required.
“We have to remember that the play was written with adults in mind so for the cast to rise to the challenge the way they have is fantastic.”
As Patricia, Teddy and Peter, Sarah Gray, Robert White and Patrick Watson are the young actors involved in the central love triangle and speaking to them during rehearsals they seemed to be enjoying getting to grips with their roles.
As the woman caught in the middle, Sarah said her character was a complex one to understand.
“Patricia is actually quite a likeable character although the play does make her see like a bad person at times,” she commented.
“She wrestles with her feelings for both men.
“The more the play develops the more you get to know all of the characters and they all have redeeming qualities apart from, maybe, Peter.”
Springing to his alter ego’s defence, Patrick said: “I’d still say he was a pretty likeable guy; there is some deeper stuff going on inside his head although I have to say I am revelling in how shallow he is!
“We were rehearsing a scene where the other characters had to show some emotion; I asked if I had to and the answer was a definite ‘no’. Peter is very self centered.”
Having had a great time starring in ‘Brylcreem Boys’, Robert is enjoying the different acting challenge ‘Flare Path’ presented.
“There is definitely more to ‘Flare Path’ than meets the eye. It’s a trickier script than ‘Brylcreem Boys’ and there are more lines.
“It was an all male cast last year; females always make things complicated!” he joked.
The ‘Flare Path’ ensemble also includes Alexandra Watney as Doris, Matthew Taylor as Count Skriczevinsky, Ben Foreman as Dusty Miller; Ella Gibbs as Maudie Miller, DC as Squadron Leader Swanson, Hannah Hay as Mrs Oakes and Barry Jones as Percy and they are now just a week away from their one night only spot at the Volunteer Hall.
“I think any amateur group would be intimidated by the size of some of the roles in ‘Flare Path’,” John continued.
“But we at Duns Players like to set a high standard and challenge ourselves to try ambitious things. The best thing about this show is the amount of young actors who wanted to take part. I think the success of ‘Brylcreem Boys’ was a big factor in that.”
Tickets are £7.50 (£6 concessions) and the show starts at 7.30pm.