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Posts Tagged ‘Laura Rogers’

For me, history at school ended before the Second World War, so my knowledge of it has always been weak. The first I knew of the importance of Scottish meteorologist James Stagg was watching the film Dunkirk last year. David Haig’s play pre-dates this film, taking us through his story in great depth and it’s both fascinating and entertaining.

Stagg was given the military rank of Group Captain and sent to work for allied commander General Eisenhower, alongside his American meteorologist Colonel Crick, three days before the proposed D-Day landings, which they’d been planning for three years. Crick’s forecasts were based on historical patterns, but Stagg was more scientific, in particular taking into account upper air movements like the then less well known jet-stream. They clashed and contradicted one another and Eisenhower was faced with choosing between them.

Though we know he chose to follow Stagg’s local experience and scientific approach, which turned out to be a pivotal choice in the outcome of the war, the telling of the story has you on the edge of your seat nonetheless, a testament to Haig’s expert writing and Jonathan Dove’s well paced direction. Two other parallel stories – the relationship between Eisenhower and his British aide and confidente Kay Summersby and Stagg’s wife’s impending confinement with complications – add two additional layers, which gives the play even more depth.

Haig plays the dour, earnest Scot himself, delicately balancing his seriousness, professionalism and passion for his science, under intense pressure, knowing his decision will affect 300,000 lives. Malcolm Sinclair has great presence as Eisenhower, likeable at first, his sincerity becoming questionable. Laura Rogers is outstanding as the loyal, assertive chauffeur and aide Kay, who plays a key role that could be easily forgotten. It’s a first class ensemble that includes some impressive doubling-up, notably Michael Mackenzie as an Admiral and an electrician (which I’d never have realised without the programme), and an auspicious professional stage debut from Bert Seymour as young meteorologist Andrew.

A thoroughly satisfying night at the theatre, where a true story, excellent writing, expert staging and fine performances come together to provide enthralling storytelling. It’s transferring to the West End, so be sure to catch it there if you miss it at the Park Theatre.

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