HEROES by Gérald Sibleyras translated by Tom Stoppard, Watermill Theatre, 11th February to 20th March 2010
Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm
Thursday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm
Saturday 20 March only performances at 1.30pm and 6.30pm
British Sign Language interpreted performance, Monday 1 March, 7.30pm
Audio Described performance, Thursday 11 March, 2.30pm
Free talk back after the show on Friday 26 February and Friday 12 March.
Tickets 01635 46044
Running Time 1 hour 40 mins. 1 Interval
Review Mark Courtice 15th February 2010
Last of the Summer Vin
It’s France in the 1960s and three old soldiers live out their declining years in a home run by nuns. On a neglected terrace looking out over the cemetery, they worry about death, discuss women, and hatch plots ranging from murder to an expedition to Indo-china (later toned down to a visit to a nearby poplar grove).
It has been suggested that there’s something of Waiting for Godot in this aimless nuttyness, but it seems here more like The Last of the Summer Wine. There’s an officer-class chap, a quiet thinker and a bloke who speaks with the quirky voice of the common man. They don’t get very far, but there’s lots of fun as they mess about.
There are jokes, a neat structure and it’s a short sharp show. This is properly a translation, not one of Stoppard’s adaptations, but some elegant phrasing is recognisably his.
The pleasure is in seeing three actors do their stuff. Those on stage at Newbury seize the chance, building characters through confident physicality, most strikingly in a splendid sequence when they rope themselves together with a fire hose.
Henri may "limp like a bastard" but David Fielder endows him with ferocious energy. This is a rounded, complex character who both joins in with the shadow world of his companions and sees how mad it is.
Phillipe loses consciousness from time to time, and harbours suspicions that the home’s superintendant is going to murder him. Christopher Etteridge delivers the whole man, rather than a collection of character tics.
Gustav is cantankerous, stiff necked and very conscious of his position, but is terrified of leaving the grounds of the home. Michael Hadley pins the combination of acerbic and vulnerable exactly.
Paul Hart’s production wisely makes room for this acting treat; there’s a detailed set from Andrew D Edwards that makes it clear we are right at the bottom of the garden.
As summer moves to autumn, Simon Slater’s plucked strings music, and Richard Howell’s mellow lighting ensure that the elegiac tone is maintained throughout this charming evening in the company of some engaging old scamps.
Philippe Christopher Ettridge
Henri David Fielder
Gustave Michael Hadley
Directed by Paul Hart
Designed by Andrew D Edwards
Lighting by Richard Howell
Music by Simon Slater