Thursday, 26 November 2015

Theatre 2015: Review Thirty-Eight

Waste, Lyttleton Theatre at the National Theatre, London. November 2015.

After our recent trip to the disappointing The Winter's Tale I'm pretty sure that all three of us were a little nervous of seeing this play, two of us had no real idea of what it was about. I was drawn to it mostly because it is a play that was banned by the censor for many years and I always feel that if those "superior" to me think I shouldn't see/read something then I really probably should.

It is a very talky play, it reminded me a lot of Man and Superman from earlier in the year where there were so many ideas to get across that full attention had to be given at all times, luckily for this production the actors and the script made this easy to give.

The play is a political drama, but all about what goes on behind the scenes, it is also a personal drama and one that I found most affecting.  Time after time my assumptions were proved wrong and I found the ending to be a shocking surprise.

Some parts bothered me slightly - the play started with a very strong female-led scene and then this group of intelligent women vanished from the stage. It has since occurred to me that this is a play from 1907, before the main suffragette campaign was under way, and that of course women would be excluded from everywhere except the drawing room. Even those women who appeared to be powerful behind the scenes could not come to the fore as the political intrigue deepens.

The play was banned because it deals with abortion, a politician gets a lover pregnant and she dies getting rid of the child, however even this is not quite as it seems. The subsequent potential for scandal then is the catalyst for the second half of the play.  I am trying not to go into detail about the play as since I've seen it I have seen many reviews where all of the plot is given away and I think that seeing it unfold organically was the best way.

I found this a political play from over 100 years ago to still be scandalously relevant - decisions made by the old-boys' network behind closed doors making or breaking laws and lives.  The play hasn't been received well by all reviewers but I know that it will stay with me for quite a while and it gave me lots to think about.

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