Jermyn Street Theatre to revive Rattigan’s debut work this autumn

The Green Bay Tree

Jermyn Street Theatre is to stage three productions from the 1930s this autumn including the début work by Terence Rattigan.

Running from September to December the three plays are all by English playwrights and originally staged between 1933 and ’34.

The line up is made up of Flowers Of The Forest, John van Druten’s lament to the fallen of World War One; the first ever revival of Rattigan’s First Episode and The Green Bay Tree the first production in 60 years of Mordaunt Shairp’s controversial 1930s allusion to homosexuality.

The season opens on September 23 with Flowers of The Forest directed by the theatre’s artistic director Anthony Biggs.

A time shift work set in London in 1934 and in Sussex from 1914 to 1916, the play tells the story of the Jacklyn family torn apart by the Great War.

Tackling the issues of how the conflict had a long lasting and devastating effect on a whole generation, the play is a both a eulogy to those who fell and a testament to those who lived on without them.

John Van Druten was one of the most popular playwrights of the inter-war and early post-war years and was best known for his works Bell, Book and Candle, which was later made into a film starring James Stewart and Kim Novak; and I am a Camera, his adaptation of Goodbye To Berlin by Christopher Isherwood.

It is followed by Primavera’s production of First Episode, which was co-authored with Philip Heimann and is directed by Tom Littler.

Inspired by events from Rattigan’s own time in 1930s Oxford, First Episode is the story of a movie star’s appearance in a student play.

The story charts the relationship of best friends Tony and David as their friendship is tested when Tony becomes besotted with the beautiful star Margot Gresham.

First Episode is one of the earliest plays to deal explicitly with homosexuality and marked the start of Rattigan’s glittering career.

Continuing the theme of unspoken sexuality, the season ends with Mordaunt Shairp’s study of gay desire and control.

Produced by Evergreen Theatrical Productions The Green Bay Tree runs from November 25 to December 20.

Telling the story of a beautiful young man as he is forced to choose between the love of his fiancée and the lifestyle of his male mentor, the work is a comedy of manipulation and self-repression.

The original Broadway production launched Laurence Olivier’s American career as he played the lead opposite his then wife Jill Esmond.

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