Terence Rattigan’s All On Her Own is one of just half a dozen or so that the playwright penned specifically for television. Running at roughly the same length as an average episode of your favourite soap opera, and containing just as many unforeseen revelations, this is a play that was made for the small screen.
Indeed, it fits the bill so well, a new revival comes to the digital platform Stream.Theatre for a limited run. Janie Dee is an impressive Rosemary Hodge; recently widowed she returns, from some cultural soiree, to her comfortable Hampstead home and attempts to communicate with her late husband.
It’s approaching midnight, and spirits of the alcoholic nature are perhaps more responsible for the unfolding events than anything other-worldly. A monologue of this nature can be tricky to get right, especially as Dee is required to also provide the voice of her late husband, but director, Alastair Knights and assistant director, Jack McCann, seem to have found the perfect pace, giving Janie Dee all the space she needs to deliver a knock-out performance.
All On Her Own, doesn’t have the same kind of tension as Rattigan’s The Winslow Boy, or an element of farce like Harlequinade (which interestingly, was paired with All On Her Own at The Garrick a few years back). Instead, it sits somewhere comfortably in the middle, an intriguing enough plot to keep you wondering how Gregory (the husband) really died, with touches of wit and wordplay to keep it from becoming too morbid.
What it lacks compared to the stage plays, it makes up for with insight in to the playwrights recurring themes. Inequality within relationships would be the standout here; Rosemary, clearly upper-middle class, potentially hen-pecking to death the working class (though moderately successful) husband.
In thinking of the browbeaten spouse, it’s worth remembering that this was written in the late sixties, so the stereotypes of the era are baked in, but thankfully not too obvious. Rosemary’s beloved Hampstead home is decorated with modern furnishings, but there’s an occasional nod to the decade where this play originates, which is a nice touch, and Lindsay Miller’s hauntingly beautiful original score helps create the right atmosphere.
All On Her Own might not be breaking new ground, but it is a timeless piece by a master playwright, and this written for TV drama feels right at home on the virtual stage. In this revival, Janie Dee’s performance, coupled with Knights’ direction make it an electrifying piece of digital theatre.
All On Her Own is available on Stream.Theatre from 16 to 21 February 2021.