THESE days he is the lesser spotted Terence Rattigan.

A flurry of revivals marked his centenary in 2011, notably Maxine Peake "poshing up" for The Deep Blue Sea at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, but aside from The Browning Version, the aversion to staging his mid-20th century dramas remains undimmed.

"His plays are typically set in an upper middle-class background," says his Wikipedia pen portrait, going to the heart of the problem in our age of socially diverse theatre programming.

He was trampled in the stampede by the Angry Young Men, Osborne, Pinter, Sillitoe and co, but Sir Terence Mervyn Rattigan CBE still warrants more exposure.

So let's light a torch for Flare Path, his 1942 wartime work brought out of the attic of neglect by The Original Theatre Company and Birdsong Productions, giving you the chance to see why Winston Churchill once said of it: "I was very moved by this play. It is a masterpiece”.

Prompted by his own experiences as a tail gunner in the Second World War, Rattigan depicts the life-and-death tensions, gallows humour, camaraderie, quiet bravery and surges of fear of both the RAF bomber crews, waiting for their next mission, and their wives and sweethearts, left awaiting their return from each raid.

The setting is the Residents Lounge of a Lincolnshire hotel where they gather, run with somewhat eccentric rules and no nonsense by Mrs Oakes (Audrey Palmer, a splendid conduit for comedy that will appeal to Fawlty Towers devotees). Staying there is former screen actress Patricia Warren (Hedydd Dylan), wife of RAF pilot Flight Lieutenant Teddy Graham (Daniel Fraser), whose marriage on the rebound will be tested by the surprise arrival of Patricia’s ex-lover, Hollywood matinee idol Peter Kyle (Lynden Edwards), for whom she still holds a candle, seemingly at both ends.

This is a story of love and war, passions and missions, where living in the minute is the code of conduct, despite the hotel trying to operate with surface calm, while the world is paddling madly underneath: a contrasting state captured well in Justin Audibert's direction and Hayley Grindle's set design with its profusion of propeller blades.

Yes, there are "upper-middle class types" here, such as Fraser's nerve-shredded Teddy and Graham Seed's ever-so-decent Squadron Leader Swanson, but so too are working-class Sergeant Miller (Jamie Hogarth) and Mrs Miller (Polly Hughes), a Polish flying officer (William Reay, with his amusing grasp of English) and his English yokel wife (Claire Andreadis).

Amid the theatre of war, courtesy of Dominic Bilkey's blasts of sound design, the theatre of relationships is conducted too: relationships between lovers, relationships between crew members, relationships with the conduct of war, the struggle in the head. The presence of a Hollywood gadfly, thinking only of himself, only emphasises Rattigan's admiration for the self-sacrificial airmen, and if Flare Path is a period piece, its values still shine brightly.

Flare Path, The Original Theatre Company/Birdsong Productions, at York Theatre Royal, until Saturday. Box office: 01904 623568 or at