Drawing: Laura Rogers in Pressure

Autographed drawing of Laura Rogers in Pressure at the Ambassadors Theatre on London's West End

Welsh-born actress Laura Rogers returned to the West End in June in David Haig’s wartime play PRESSURE, which concludes its run at the Ambassadors Theatre this Saturday.

Born in Swansea, Laura left at the age of eighteen to attend RADA in London and has been based in the capital since. She was last seen in THE 39 STEPS at the Criterion Theatre in 2011, having appeared in four productions at Shakespeare’s Globe, including the role of Lady Macbeth. Laura is also well-known to television and film viewers, having featured in such high profile shows as DOCTOR WHO and HOLBY CITY and her role as Sheena Williams in the ITV drama BAD GIRLS.

PRESSURE is based on the true story of Royal Air Force meteorologist James Stagg, and Operation Overlord, particularly the weather-forecasting for the D-Day landings during the Second World War, advising the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Laura plays Kay Summersby, Ike’s driver and later secretary and confidante. It’s a role she originated for the 2014 World Premiere at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh and has been with the production ever since, which has included at transfer to the Chichester Festival Theatre, a National tour, London’s Park Theatre and the current West End residency at the Ambassadors.

She signed this drawing for me after a Saturday evening performance a few weeks ago.

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Drawing: Malcolm Sinclair in Pressure

Autographed drawing of Malcolm Sinclair in Pressure at the Ambassadors Theatre on London's West End

English actor Malcolm Sinclair has played an extensive number of film, television, radio and theatre roles since the 1980’s, including his Olivier-nominated portrayal of Major Miles Flack in the Donmar Warehouse 2001 revival of PRIVATES ON PARADE.

His latest is General Dwight D.Eisenhower in the West End transfer of David Haig’s PRESSURE, at the Ambassadors Theatre. The war weather play with its multifunctional metaphorical title is a superb dramatisation of the preparations for Operation Overlord
and the D-Day landings during WWll. It centres on the tension between wartime meteorologists, Scotsman James Stagg ( David Haig) and American Irving P. Klick ( Philip Cairns), who are advising ‘Ike’, the chain-smoking supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces, on the weather forecast for the Normandy invasion.

Malcom, like David, has been with the production since it originated at the Lyceum in Edinburgh in 2014, moving to the Chichester Festival Theatre before a National tour followed by a run at London’s Park Theatre before finally settling into the West End where it finishes this weekend.

In her 2014 Review for the Evening Standard, Fiona Mountford wrote, “Cracking performance from Malcolm Sinclair. He is an actor of commanding presence who can chill a theatre merely by walking on stage and he does that here.” In his Guardian review for this year’s West End transfer, Michael Billington said, “Malcolm Sinclair is exemplary as Eisenhower.”

I caught up with Malcolm when he arrived for last Saturday’s matinee I addressing him as ‘Mr President’ in reference to his character’s elevation to the US Presidency, not knowing at the time that he was also the former President of the Actors Equity for the past eight years. Either way he signed my Ike sketch.

Drawing: David Haig in Pressure

Autographed drawing of David Haig in Pressure at the Ambassadors Theatre on London's West End

It’s been called the most important weather forecast of all time. In June 1944, over 150,000 Allied troops would land on five sites in France, in what would prove to be one of the most decisive actions of WWll. After months of meticulous planning, ‘Operation Overlord’ was set to go, but there was one crucial aspect which the military commanders couldn’t control: the weather.

It’s the focus of the wartime drama PRESSURE, written by Olivier Award winner David Haig. The play is set over a 72-hour period leading up to the launch of the operation. Chief meteorologist, Group Captain James Stagg, played by David is the weather adviser to the overall commander General Dwight Eisenhower. Despite a heatwave, Stagg calculates the weather will turn nasty at the time the invasion is scheduled, risking the lives of thousands. This is contrary to the prediction of American celebrity weatherman, Colonel Irving Krick. Stagg has to convince Eisenhower that he is right, delaying the operation by a week, waiting for the weather to improve.

After premiering at Edinburgh’s Lyceum Theatre in May 2014 to critical acclaim and transferring to the Chichester Festival Theatre at the end of the same month, the original production has now been revived at the West End’s Ambassador Theatre, coinciding with the 74th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

The always affable David, signed my sketch last month at the Ambassadors stage door.

Drawing: Justine Mitchell and Sam Troughton in Beginning

Autographed drawing of Justine Mitchell and Sam Troughton in Beginning at the Ambassadors Theatre in London's West End

After a sell-out run at the National’s Dorfman Theatre, David Eidridge’s masterful new play BEGINNING transferred to Ambassador’s Theatre just off Charing Cross Road in central London until 24 March.

‘The (anti) romance for the 21st Century,’ is a two-hander with Justine Mitchell as Laura and Sam Troughton as Danny, sozzled loners, desperately seeking common ground and a connection. It’s the early hours of the morning, and Danny is the last straggler at Laura’s party. The flat’s a mess and so are they. In his four-star review for the Guardian, Michael Billington said, “Both actors peel away the protective layers in a play that leaves you caring deeply about its characters and which adds unusual poignancy to the dating game.”

Justine and Sam signed my drawing at the stage door, between Saturday shows.