Terence Rattigan’s The Deep Blue Sea opened at the Duchess Theatre in London’s West End on 6 March 1952, after an initial run in Brighton. It was directed by Frith Banbury and starred Peggy Ashcroft as Hester Collyer, Kenneth More as her lover Freddie Page and Roland Culver as her husband Sir William Collyer. The supporting cast were Peter Illing as Mr Miller, David Aylmer as Philip Welch, Ann Walford as Ann Welch, Barbara Leake as Mrs Elton and Raymond Francis as Freddie’s friend, Jackie Jackson. The set was designed by Tanya Moisewitch.
The first American production opened on 5 November 1952 at the Morosco Theatre on Broadway, New York. It was also directed by Frith Banbury but with a different cast. Margaret Sullavan played Hester Collyer, with Jimmy Hanley as Freddie Page and Alan Webb as Sir William Collyer. Rattigan and Banbury disliked Sullavan’s performance, and the American critics failed to appreciate the play: the Daily News labelled it ‘soap opera’ and The Post dismissed it as ‘slick magazine fiction’.
These production photographs by Angus McBean and Vandamm Studio, New York, come from Terence Rattigan’s own photograph album.
 Quoted in Geoffrey Wansell, Terence Rattigan (London: Fourth Estate, 1995), p. 231.
- Full title:
- Terence Rattigan Papers. Photographs of London and New York premières of The Deep Blue Sea by Terence Rattigan
- March 1952; November 1952
- Photograph / Image
- Angus McBean, Vandamm Studio
- Usage terms
Angus McBean: Angus McBean Photograph © Houghton Library, Harvard University. Houghton Library does not collect usage fees of any kind to license the work of Angus McBean.
VanDamm Studio: © The New York Public Library. Except as otherwise permitted by your national copyright laws this material may not be copied or distributed further.
- Held by
- British Library
- Add MS 74570
- Article by:
- Greg Buzwell
- Gender and sexuality, 20th-century theatre, Exploring identity
By the end of the 1950s, playwrights had gained new freedoms to represent homosexual characters and themes on the British stage. Greg Buzwell charts the impact of the Wolfenden Report and Shelagh Delaney’s A Taste of Honey on the Lord Chamberlain’s strict censorship policy.
- Article by:
- Dan Rebellato
- 20th-century theatre, Gender and sexuality, Exploring identity
Dan Rebellato recounts the inspiration for and early reception of The Deep Blue Sea, and compares successive drafts of the script to see how Terence Rattigan created a play at once restrained and emotionally intense.