In Praise of Love
A number of Terence Rattigan's plays e.g. The Winslow Boy, Separate Tables, The Deep Blue Sea, Cause Celebre were triggered by real incidents - and In Praise of Love is no exception. In the mid-1950s his friend, Rex Harrison, told him that his wife, the talented Kay Kendall, was dying of leukaemia, but she but she didn't know and he would never tell her.
Twenty years later Rattigan wrote this, his very last stage play, which was produced in 1973 and subsequently on Broadway, with Rex Harrison himself in the lead, triggered by this true event.
The play is precisely what the title says it is - but it doesn't praise youthful passion; it praises mature, spiritual love and devotion.
Within the play a character says that the English vice is never to show emotion. Each of the two middle-aged spouses withhold information from the other to protect their partner. But each knows the truth - Lydia, the wife, is dying of an incurable disease and only an American friend is told the true facts by both of them. Of course we, the audience, know their secrets too, and therein lie our tears. The critic Harold Hobson called it "the most moving expression of love that I have ever seen on a stage...a compact heart-breaking masterpiece".
Lydia Cruttwell ..... Sarah Badel
Sebastian Cruttwell ..... Martin Jarvis
Mark Walters ..... Kerry Shale
Joey Cruttwell ..... James Joyce
Director: Celia de Wolff
A Pier Production for BBC Radio 4.