Saturday, 13 February 2021

REVIEW: Terence Rattigan's All On Her Own starring Janie Dee

There is a growing range of streamed content available online and sometimes it’s hard to know what is worth watching. However, a Terrence Rattigan play starring Janie Dee shot with great care at the Fleming Mayfair Hotel tells you to expect high production values and an intriguing tale. This is not one of Rattigan’s better-known plays such as French Without Tears, The Winslow Boy, or Separate Tables but a short 30-minute piece written for TV in 1968. It therefore lends itself readily to the medium of Stream Theatre.

Janie Dee plays Rosemary Hodge a well-spoken middle-aged widow who returns from the sort of party that her late husband Gregory would have hated. Someone has told her that she speaks to her late husband often at the time he died, and Rosemary decides to try in the hope of solving the mystery of whether his death was an accident or suicide. It's late at night in her well-appointed sitting room in her grand house in Hampstead where he was found dead though apparently having everything to live for. Fuelled by a few whisky’s her monologue switches between her own voice and how she imagines her late husband sounds, with a northern Huddersfield brogue. He was a successful building contractor but had sold his business and retired.

The opening shots in the dimly lit room as she talks at the unseen front door create an eerie sense and there is depth to the setting as we see her in a lit hallway before she enters the room and turns on the light. Elegantly dressed and in a modern well-furnished room we can sense she is cultured but and well off but lonely. Jamie Dee effortlessly creates this character leaving pauses for reflection before trying to elicit a response or sign from her dead husband’s spirit. At times she stares straight down the camera and soon we see the sparkle of tears in her eyes, Tears of regret, loss and perhaps guilt. What really happened that night?

She remembers he was “woozled”, his word for drunk when he came up to her room that night and she regrets that she realised she loved him only after he had died and now, misses him terribly. The effect is one of sadness and loss but with a hint of an unsolved mystery as to why he died. Alistair Knights direction is simple and effective but it's Janie Dee performance that is compelling and moving and makes you yearn to be back in a theatre for a well written and performed drama. 

Review by Nick Wayne

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: Online until 21st February | Price of ticket: £8

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