My edition of First Episode
by Terence Rattigan and Philip Heimann is now out, published by Nick
Hern Books. This is Rattigan’s first professionally-produced play, which
opened at the Q Theatre in Richmond and transferred to the Comedy
Theatre London in January 1934. It was not a spectacular success, though
it got some excellent reviews and caused a minor scandal at the time
for its vivid portrait of louche undergraduate morals. Rattigan never
published it and at one point claimed to have burned his only copy.
In fact there is a copy in the Rattigan
archive. Actually, there are six versions of the play in existence.
They’re all slightly different. Most of them have their own annotations
and additions, making something like 10 implied versions of the play. In
preparing this edition, it was necessary to establish a reliable text;
this was partly about trying to reconcile typescripts but also making
artistic judgments about the best possible version of the text. I’m
pleased with the result.
Meanwhile, the introduction tells the full story of the play’s writing, its sources, background and production. I try to show that the play’s development revealed Rattigan’s sure dramatic instincts and reveals it as a surprisingly complex piece of work. It would now be interesting to see the play performed.