Pressure, David Haig’s World War II-set thriller, has made the switch to the West End due to popular demand. Telling a tense but remarkable true story, it’s the perfect show for maturer families to catch during Kids Week, in which a child aged 16 or under can get a free ticket to selected performances in August when accompanied by a full-paying adult.
So to get an appropriate perspective, we sent along the brilliant Darcy Dixon, 17, from Mousetrap Theatre Projects’ Youth Forum, to the show’s recent West End press night; here’s why she thinks you’ll love it.
David Haig’s Pressure at the Ambassadors Theatre is honestly one of the best shows that you could see. Not only is it extremely fast-paced, leaving you virtually on the edge of your seat, but it is also hilariously funny.
Dr James Stagg, played by Haig (yes, he both stars and wrote the show!) is daunted with the task of identifying the ideal weather conditions for the D-Day landings of WW2. Stagg is such a stoic, awkward character who is initially asked by his peers if he ever smiles, but towards the end of the play he grows on us all, as we find ourselves charmed by his uncanny wit, dynamism and skill.
Even though we do know the events of D-Day, the play looks at it from an unprecedented perspective. Many people are aware of the role of General Eisenhower (who would later become President of the USA), but little know that of Stagg – who arguably – was the main cause of English success.
What we do know however, is the unpredictability of English weather, a topic that frequently occupies our conversations. This unpredictability is at the heart of the play’s tension, with the ‘uniquely complex’ weather as described by Stagg being the driving force of the show. The incredible lighting and sound creates an intense accumulation of crashing winds, loud planes, thunder and lightning. This is not in the least bit scary, but rather a sublime reminder of the horrific weather conditions, which immerses you into the play even more.
The play also explores tensions between work and personal life. We see the characters lacking food, breaks, and even sleep, to work towards the inevitable D-Day. They literally eat, sleep and breathe their jobs. But, when Stagg’s dear wife is having problems during pregnancy, we see this tension between the two come into play. Does he leave the forecast room to meet her? Does he stay and leave her by herself? Can he do anything? During the play, I constantly found my hand in my mouth to stop myself from interjecting – you feel like a character there too as the action is so persuasive. Specifically, when Stagg was receiving calls from the hospital, it was hard to not ask what the news was!
The Ambassadors is also a beautiful theatre – the staff are very kind, and the surrounding is very warm and friendly. During the interval, the song Stormy Weather was playing, showing how every part of the show was meticulously thought about.
I urge you to see Pressure, not just for a very good night out, but also for a personal theatre experience like never before. Not only will you learn the unforgiving hardships of the D-Day landings, but more generally you will learn about making hard choices and taking risks. So take a risk, jump into the unknown, and watch Pressure at the Ambassadors Theatre!