Heads Up: Rattigan's Nijinsky
The 'British Chekhov' leads audiences on a not-so-merry dance
Sunday 05 June 2011
What are we talking about?
In 1974, Terence Rattigan penned a TV script about a meeting between Sergei Diaghilev – the man behind the Ballets Russes – and Vaslav Nijinsky, the famous dancer.
The screenplay was later mysteriously withdrawn by Rattigan, never to be seen. Now, a new play premiering at the Chichester Festival imagines why. It dramatises a meeting between a dying Rattigan and Nijinsky's widow, Romola, who scrap over Rattigan's script. In the same room – and drawing on the real-life Rattigan's real-life screenplay – Diaghilev and a younger Romola have a fight over Nijinsky. Yes, it is a bit complicated.
After the Dance: re-imagining Rattigan.
Rattigan, who, thanks to his centenary this year, appears to be the prime mover of 2011 in general. Nicholas Wright, who adapted Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials for the stage, wrote the play; Philip Franks, who also stages Rattigan's The Deep Blue Sea, is in the director's chair.
The cast, which includes Jonathan Hyde as Diaghilev and Malcolm Sinclair as Rattigan, also double up for The Deep Blue Sea.
The Early Buzz
Lifestyle magazine After Hours interviewed Franks, reporting that the "actor/director is the chief architect of the Rattigan season at Chichester ... to prepare for the Rattigan marathon, Franks had to read his way through the writer's Collected Works." Asked if it was "a voyage of discovery", he replied: "Not really. I still think that Rattigan is the English Chekhov."
The festival features another new response to a Rattigan play: David Hare's South Downs is a reply to The Browning Version. Both one-act plays, they will be performed together.
It's great that...
As Wright had access to, and drew directly on, Rattigan's screenplay, the evening is being billed as "the staging of two world premieres at once".
It's a shame that...
After Cause Célèbre, Flare Path and In Praise of Love, plus Blue Sea in Leeds and Rattigan seasons at the BBC and BFI, audiences might be all Ratted out.
It's an intriguing premise and a fresh approach, although that does mean the production lacks the bankability of some better-known works.
Rattigan's Nijinsky is at the Festival Theatre, Chichester (cft.org.uk), 19 July to 3 September.
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 3 Northern Lights above Britain: Stunning Aurora Borealis illuminates Northumberland sky on Christmas Eve
- 4 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 5 New route to Mars could make manned mission much cheaper and easier
Christmas Day TV guide 2014: What to watch from Strictly Come Dancing to the story of Frozen
Cruel Woman in Black prank sees cinema-goers terrified by movie poster - watch their reactions
Best underrated Christmas movies: From Trading Places to While You Were Sleeping
Game of Thrones season five: First preview clip shows a beardy Tyrion, a moody Cersei and a distressed Arya
Christmas TV guide 2014: The best shows to watch from Doctor Who to Downton Abbey
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food