Michael Lumsden appears in the return of Terence Rattigan’s While The Sun Shines to the Orange Tree Theatre, following the success of its sold out run in 2019.
Directed by OT Artistic Director Paul Miller, the production also features Rebecca Collingwood, Conor Glean, Sophie Khan Levy, John Hudson, Philip Labey and Jordan Mifsúd.
While The Sun Shines, featuring Michael Lumsden opens at The Orange Tree Theatre on 24 November, with previews from 20 November, and runs until 8 January 2022, with livestreamed performances via OT on screen on 6 and 7 January. While The Sun Shines continues with socially distanced seating and safety measures.
You’re appearing in While the Sun Shines at The Orange Tree Theatre, what can you tell us about the play?
It’s joyful, subversive, wonderfully funny, socially astute, and sexually very modern. It covers the events over the 48 hours before the wedding of two childhood sweethearts who are taken through the mill when a series of mistaken identities lead to chaos and confusion, set in a wartime London where everyone feels the need to make the most of life while the sun shines…it ran for over 1000 performances during the war and was Rattigan’s most popular play at the time.
Why do you think Terence Rattigan’s play is still so enjoyable today, so long after it was written?
Yes, the play is firmly set in 1943 London (most of the characters are in uniform) but the story’s universal and there’s something very modern about some of the underlying campness and sexual ambivalence. In the end though, like any good comedy, it exposes the foibles of human nature and allows us to have a good laugh at ourselves, and maybe even shed a little tear here and there.
Tell us a little about your character?
I play the Duke of Ayr and Stirling, father of the young bride to be. He’s a lover of life, a bit too fond, well a lot too fond, of a drink or two and anything that involves a bet. He needs this wedding to go ahead to ensure his own financial stability but is utterly bamboozled by some of the events that unfold before him. He wears his heart on his sleeve and swings from fury to delight in an instant, which is great fun to play.
You were part of the 2019 production, has anything changed for this new run?
Well yes, the whole country’s changed. This time we’ll be playing to a reduced audience to allow for social distancing, and we’ll be looking out at a sea of masks…which will be interesting! The references to curfew and blackout might resonate a little more too now we’ve all experienced our own lockdowns. We have 3 changes of cast so there will be some different energies on stage, and those of us left from before will need to be on our toes – always a good thing in a revival.
What have you enjoyed most about being back in rehearsals?
Everything! The last two years have been strange for all of us but our industry pretty much closed down altogether. To be back in the rehearsal room, enjoying other actors’ company, exploring the play together, working with Paul to find the little gems in the text and character motivations is just a huge treat. I feel like a child who’s been given the whole bag of sweets!
What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to see While the Sun Shines?
I hope he won’t mind but I’d quote the words of Dan Rebellato, Professor of Contemporary Theatre at Royal Holloway after he saw the 2019 production: “The play comes out as wickedly polyamorous, polysexual, and promiscuous. As well as bright as a new penny. It is played on a knife edge of just-about respectability. It is camp, outrageous, saucy, and sexy and roaringly funny. There’s not a weak link in the cast. The design is perfect. The pacing is delirious. What a treat to see this play, finally.” I agree with him!