Pressure, Assembly Rooms, Dedham.

The world is full of unsung heroes, and so is history. We are all familiar with the D Day landings, the turning point of World War Two, in which the allies pushed the German tide back out of France and bringing the end of the war closer. But Group Captain Dr. James Stagg is not as familiar a name as Eisenhower, Churchill or any of the other armed forces leaders. Stagg was the British chief meteorologist, and his forecast persuaded Eisenhower to postpone D day for 24 hours, as Stagg was convinced the fixed date, Monday 5th of June, would bring a terrible storm that would destroy the landings. Playwright and actor David Haig has brought this remarkable story to life, and this production by Dedham Players superbly captured the tension, and indeed pressure, of that weekend.

We know the outcome, but this changes nothing as Stagg has to convince Eisenhower to postpone, and his US counterpart, Col. Irving Krick, believes no storm is imminent- at this time the Gulf Stream was disputed, some experts beloved it didn’t exist. As Stagg, Michael Cook captured perfectly his bluntness, beliefs and pressure- not just in deciding the fate of the war, but his wife is also giving birth to his second child, a birth with complications. He also kept up a highly convincing Scottish accent throughout, an excellent and engaging performance. As Krick, Gary Huggins had an excellent American accent, and conveyed the passion of his character’s beliefs. As the only female member of cast, Danielle Tile was excellent as Lieutenant Kay Summersby, sensible, feisty and supportive. In fact there were good performances all round, including John Roberts as Eisenhower, and Joseph Russell as Flight-Lieutenant Andrew Carter.

Some of the actors, however, really needed to have had a short back and sides and adopt a haircut more suitable to the period, and some of the uniforms were a little ill fitting, undermining the authenticity of the piece a little. However, Kelvin Hastings-Smith’s strong direction kept the pace going very well, and it was performed on an excellent set by David Thompson and the company. Another production for Dedham Players to be proud of, and I look forward to their next show- no pressure!