Classic 1953 play by the English Chekhov is fascinating, but rather dated in its values and too clumsy in its production.
In 1975 Emmylou Harris might have walked all the way from Boulder to Birmingham but in 1842 a weedy, tweedy small-town teacher and small-time socialist named George Holyoake actually walked from Birmingham to Bristol to visit a friend imprisoned for publishing a journal criticising the establishment. He pauses in conservative Cheltenham to give a talk to the Chartists about migration and Poor Law reform – and because of one glancingly atheistic remark, is arrested and tried for blasphemy.
Do scandals have a sell-by date? When it comes to sex and politicians, the answer is no. The tabloids, and the news-hungry public, still seem to relish a good story about a powerful man who is caught with his trousers around his ankles. So Harley Granville Barker’s Waste — first put on in 1907 and then rewritten some 20 years later — is ostensibly a highly relevant drama of a personal tragedy in which our characteristic national mix of prurience and puritanism gets a longwinded airing. Certainly, the plot is instantly recognisable.