Pressure – review

In the same week that the death was announced of a Scottish sailor who was one of the last surviving British servicemen to have taken part in the D-Day landings, the Lyceum has unveiled the story of a Scot, James Stagg, whose input into these landings was crucial. Written and performed by the highly acclaimed actor David Haig, “Pressure” is the true story of a renowned meteorologist from Dalkeith who is brought in by Eisenhower to help advise the military on the weather prospects for the proposed D-Day. Get this wrong, and thousands of men could be lost at sea.
The tension in the play is between Stagg, and American meteorologist Krick, who do not agree on the likely prospects for the day, mainly because Stagg believes in a fairly new concept in forecasting, the “jet stream”, which Krick does not allow as part of his calculations. The pressure in this play mounts as reading after reading is updated on the chart, not so much a Thin Blue Line for Haig as a thin red isobar line.

Haig is perfect in the part, just as adamant and dogmatic a performance as ever he gave on television, with his usual flair for sustained rant. While the sun shines down from a cloudless sky, Stagg stubbornly refuses to budge on his forecast for storm force weather. Eisenhower is furious.
Malcolm Sinclair is awesomely believable as Eisenhower – tall, rangy, straight out of the wartime photos. His performance is warm and sympathetic, in his dealings with all staff, and particularly Kay Summersby, chauffeur, typist and dogsbody. She is a feisty likeable token women, played by Laura Rogers, who provides the few moments of human warmth in the play.
All these weather updates can become a bit repetitive, but this is a personal view, not shared by my weather geek companion who found all the chart activity compelling. There is real tension as the storm arrives, and the mission is in jeopardy.
Directed by John Dove, and a co-production with Chichester Festival Theatre, this is a fair weather end to the current excellent season at the Lyceum.
Lyceum Theatre until May 24th Booking: 0131 248 4848 /

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