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Review: Pressure, at Park Theatre

Tense story of meteorologist charged with predicting weather for the D-Day landings also examines how human beings can blow hot and cold

05 April, 2018 — By Catherine Usher

Robert Heard and David Haig in Pressure. Photo: Robert Day

PRESSURE doesn’t just tell the remarkable true story of a crucial part of the world’s recent history – the lead-up to the Normandy landings and how predicting the weather played an integral part of the planning process – it also details the complexity of human interaction that we must all navigate on a daily basis.

From the moment meteorologist James Stagg arrives, he understands the urgency of the situation and is motivated entirely by doing what he thinks is right. There are some killer lines throughout the play that summarise different types of people and their approach to life.

When Eisenhower (a commanding Malcolm Sinclair) questions whether vanity is influencing Stagg’s work, his response, “Do you truly believe I would allow personal pride to get in the way of my objectivity as a scientist? The question is too insulting to answer,” epitomises the type of honest, impressive man that Stagg is.

Laura Rogers as Kay Summersby, and David Haig as James Stagg. Photo: Robert Day

Some will identify with polite, astute right-hand woman Kay Summersby, who frequently puts aside her own needs to help those around her achieve what’s required. Once she understands the gravity of Stagg’s situation, competent Kay (Laura Rogers) realises her role is to placate others in order to allow him to get on with his vital work. She is convinced that people like Stagg, with his intellect, passion and tenacity, are going to win the war for them.

Playwright David Haig shines in the lead role and demonstrates an admirable understanding of scientist Stagg’s personality contrasting with those around him, who are self-serving to varying degrees. For Stagg, nothing is based on social standing, it’s all on the person’s attributes and what they can offer to help achieve the goal and make D-Day a success.

Author Haig has shone the spotlight on a clever and courageous man, whose compassionate character is as impressive as his achievements.

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