Opened 22 Sep 2006
Written: Michael Hastings
Directed: Lindsay Posner
Cast: Will Keen (Tom), Frances O’Connor (Viv), Anna Carteret (Rose), Laura Elphinstone (Louise), Robert Portal (Maurice), Benjamin Whitrow (Charles).
Synopsis: The story of the relationship between T. S. Eliot and his first wife, Vivienne Haigh-Wood: Cambridge 1915, awkward American graduate Tom meets wildly exquisite Viv. Bewitched by her personality and class, enticed by his remarkable character, together they embark on a whirlwind romance. As Tom begins to find literary success, Viv’s once-endearing volatility becomes harder to bear. Their hasty marriage becomes an impossible love story.
What the critics had to say.....
NICHOLAS DE JONGH for THE EVENING STANDARD says, "Powerful production...Frances O'Connor's astonishingly raw and wracked performance." RHODA KOENIG for THE INDEPENDENT says, "Absorbing in its first half, the play dies under its repetitiveness...There is little to fault, though, in Lindsay Posner's production, one that, as best I can recall, surpasses in style and vitality the original at the Royal Court." MICHAEL BILLINGTON for THE GUARDIAN says, "Lindsay Posner's well-ordered production loses some of its dynamic in the later stages, though the acting provides constant pleasure. Will Keen gives us a highly plausible Eliot, looking like a man permanently uncomfortable inside his own body. Frances O'Connor captures Viv's odd mixture of larkiness and intensity." CHARLES SPENCER for THE DAILY TELEGRAPH says, "This is a piece that made me feel uncomfortable when I saw its Royal Court première, and it made me feel uncomfortable all over again in Lindsay Posner's excellently acted revival. There is an unattractive prurience about the play, as if the dramatist had his eye glued to the keyhole of the Eliot's bedroom door (though, in fact, the poet seems to have spent much of the marriage sleeping in a deckchair rather than with his wife). As one critic has observed of Carole Seymour-Jones's subsequent book about the marriage: "TS Eliot's sex life. Do we really want to go there? It is a sad and desolate place." BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE for THE TIMES says, "Absorbing, moving play."
Production photo by Hugo Glendinning