Flare Path – Preview Night Review

March 5, 2011

My plan to come to London this weekend was to attend the Entertainment and Media Show at Olympia, unfortunately with just a few weeks notice the event was cancelled, so with train tickets and hotel already paid for (and non refundable!) I decided to make the best of it.

I was fortunate enough to get some of the last tickets available for the first preview night’s performance of Trevor Nunn’s latest show “Flare Path” at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket.

Friday 4th March 2011

The day had arrived so I catch my usual direct train from Chester to London Euston, an uneventful trip where I could catch up on some sleep. When I arrive I go to check into my hotel and then head in to town, after a spot of dinner I head over to the theatre stopping along the way in Trafalgar Square where World Book night is taking place, I hear some readings from authors from around the world and even the London Mayor Boris Johnson.


Upon taking my seat at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket I notice I am sitting right behind the shows director Trevor Nunn, for a moment I contemplate asking him to sign my programme but decide against it as he is probably quite nervous with this being opening night.

The play is set in the 1940’s during wartime at a guesthouse on the outskirts of a British RAF base. Focussing on the relationships between the pilots and their wives and in particular an extra marital affair between Patricia Warren (played by Sienna Miller) the wife of Flight Lieutenant Graham (Harry Hadden-Paton) and the movie star James Peter Kyle (James Purefoy).

As this was the very first preview night there was some minor slip ups with the dialogue, but only minor ones which after a few more performances and the actors finding their timing should easily be ironed out.

My stand out performance of the night though had to be Sheridan Smith who played Doris otherwise known as the Countess. Fresh from her role as Elle in Legally Blonde she had a true stage presence that really captured the audience. Her timing, comic lines and portrayal of tragedy could not be faulted.

That could also be said for Harry Hadden-Paton during one scene where he had a breakdown after almost not making it back from a mission really made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

The comic element of the play was from a Polish Count affectionately called Johnny by his wife.

Another performance that needs to be mentioned is Joe Armstong who played Dusty, he embodied a typical Airman of the time doing his bit for King and Country despite his own physical pain, personal sacrifice and near death experiences.

If I am honest I would like to reserve judgement on the plays two main stars Sienna Miller and James Purefoy as mey maybe just waiting to find their groove, but I was not blown away by their performances as much as ome of the other characters.

My overall thoughts on the play was excellent and when the actors have settled in to their roles it will be a great night out.

After the show I went to the stage door and was able to meet a number of the actors and directors. The paparazzi was out in force and to my surprise they focussed more on Sheridan Smith than Sienna Miller, but that could be due to the fact she was more accommodation. I have been fortunate enough to meet Sheridan before and know how she loves her fans, that was true tonight, she did not leave before everyone who wanted an autograph and a picture with her got one.

I then head back to the hotel for the night.

Saturday 5th March 2011

The next morning I check out, get some breakfast at the Wetherspoon’s across the road then head to Euston fro my train ride hone. After spending a bit of time in the first class lounge enjoying the free drinks I board my train back to Chester.



5 Responses to “Flare Path – Preview Night Review”

  1. Amy on March 5th, 2011 5:59 pm

    Thanks for your review. I’m a fan of Joe Armstrong so it’s good to hear you found his performance noteworthy.

    Lots of people seem to be saying that Sheridan Smith is the standout and Sienna Miller not so much … interesting.

    Glad you enjoyed the show.

  2. Flare Path – Preview Night Review « Travelshorts’ Weblog on March 5th, 2011 6:38 pm
  3. Primeras imágenes de ‘Flare Path’ | James Purefoy - JamesPurefoy.es on March 6th, 2011 10:07 am

    […] | Travel Shorts Imagen | […]

  4. PassionForTheatre on March 10th, 2011 9:07 am

    I saw this last night and share your view about Sienna Miller’s performance. While she was good, she wasn’t as strong as the rest of the flawless and superb cast. James Purefoy, I thought, was good last night. And I hope Harry Hadden-Paton and Sheridan Smith get the critical acclaim they deserve.

  5. Reviews Roundup: Flare Path @ Theatre Royal Haymarket | Londonist on March 14th, 2011 4:01 pm

    […] Thankfully, his Olivier-winning co-star Sheridan Smith laps up more of the plaudits.  A few years ago, the Lincolnshire-born lass was on TV’s Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps opposite Ralf Little as her husband Jonny.  In Flare Path, she plays somewhat within her comfort zone as Doris, the Lincolnshire-born ex-barmaid married to Polish pilot Count Skriczevinsky (try saying that with a stiff upper lip) whom she affectionately calls “Johnny”.  ”Sheridan Smith shakes off her Legally Blonde persona with a moving portrayal of Doris” says Glen’s Theatre Blog while Mark Owens, the chap behind TravelShorts.com, describes her as “the stand out performance of the night”. […]

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