‘It’s hard to find fault with OVO’s recent productions’

OVO presents The Deep Blue Sea at The Maltings Arts Theatre

OVO presents The Deep Blue Sea at The Maltings Arts Theatre - Credit: OVO

Madeleine Burton reviews OVO’s production of The Deep Blue Sea at the Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans.

Painter and actress Emma Watson

Painter and actress Emma Watson - Credit: Archant

The audience at the Maltings Arts Theatre will know they are in for a good evening when they see how the stage layout had been transformed for OVO’s production of The Deep Blue Sea.

For the bijou St Albans theatre has been brilliantly converted into the flat in which Hester Collyer finds both despair and hope.

And so convincing is that transformation, designed and constructed by OVO founder member Simon Nicholas, that the audience feels part of the drama in the Terence Rattigan classic and not just onlookers.

It is a tactic OVO successfully employed with their last production, The Crucible, which not only drew the audience into the action but also highlighted the claustrophobic world in which the witch trials took place.

Emma Watson as Hester Collyer and James Douglas as her feckless inamorato Freddie Page are perfectly cast in The Deep Blue Sea, directed by Kat-Anne Rogers.

It is no mean feat to portray huge displays of emotion with the audience just yards from your face but they both carry it off with aplomb.

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The result is a powerful and memorable production of a play that was written in 1952 but has themes just as pertinent today.

It even has cast members smoking at the most stressful moments – shock, horror in our politically-correct world.

Although Emma and James dominate the production – as they should – they have plenty of strong support from the remainder of the cast.

Andy Mills in the role of the disgraced doctor Mr Miller lives up to his reputation as one of the finest actors on the St Albans stage, as does David Widdowson as Hester’s husband Sir William Collyer.

And audiences will look forward to seeing more of OVO stage newcomers Jacqui Bannister as Ann Welch, her husband Philip, played by Nathanael Spalding, Michael Wass as Freddie’s friend Jackie Jackson and Sarah Priddy as landlady Mrs Elton.

It has been hard to find fault with anything in OVO’S recent productions and this is no exception.

Further performances are from 8pm on Thursday, March 15, Friday, March 16, and Saturday, March 17.

• For more details, including how to book, can be found at www.ovo.org.uk and www.maltingsartstheatre.co.uk

Tickets are available from www.ticketsource.co.uk/ovo