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When death was just a heartbeat away for WW2 heroes

Flare Path, Criterion Theatre, Coventry, June 30 - July 7.

It was the play that moved Winston Churchill - a poignant portrait of people at war, based on playwright Terence Rattigan's own real-life experiences as a wartime gunner in the RAF. And this new production, directed for the Criterion by Richard Warren, marks the centenary of the Royal Air Force, founded in 1918.

The setting is Lincolnshire in 1941, home to the bomber squadrons and their crews, survival rate then 50 per cent.

At a country house hotel on the edge of the airfield, men and women caught up in a theatre of war where death is a heartbeat away, try to make sense of their lives amid the heroism and the horror.

This classic ensemble piece blends highly-charged drama with an authentic taste of the fear, camaraderie and passion of the moment, delivered with Rattigan's characteristic gift for under-statement.

As well as the combatants, it explores the plight of those who wait, counting the crews out into the night sky and counting them back in as dawn breaks, while at its heart is a poignant love triangle that pits duty against personal desire.

Tickets online at www.criteriontheatre.co.uk or from the box office on 024 7667 5175 (Wednesdays and play nights) or the 24-hour voicemail system on 024 7667 4719.

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