BWW Review: PRESSURE, Park Theatre
What could be more patriotic to Britain than watching a wartime drama that complains about the weather? David Haig's Pressure, first seen at Edinburgh, then Chichester, and soon off to the West End, is a highly watchable, microscopic look into the mechanics of battle.
But why do we want to watch a play about a meteorologist? It's the historical context we found ourselves in that makes the play so interesting. The narrative follows the eve of D-Day, an event that marked the invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe.
James Stagg (Haig himself) has been summoned to Portsmouth to make an informed decision on if the weather will be clear enough to make an effective landing. He says no, but his US colleague Krick thinks otherwise, leaving General Eisenhower (Malcolm Sinclair) with a conundrum.
Determined that this is one of his only chances for attack, Eisenhower goads for a positive conclusion, which Stagg denies. Stagg's an expert, meaning that he is the one who should be listened to - right? Well, that's easier said than done when he's the presenting presenting caution to the thing the general wants to do most.
Eisenhower mounts the pressure but the odds are too uncertain. Nothing can be left for chance - the stakes are too high. Do they continue with the plan, or call the whole thing off? No matter what decision is made, it will cause repercussions that will change the course of history forever.
John Dove's production is well performed and certainly has a lot going for it. At times it does rely on its exposition too much but for the most part it's nothing short of enthralling. It's also surprisingly humorous; Haig has written dialogue that feels quintessentially British and for that reason it resonates fondly.
Photo credit: Robert Day