Hastings' play examines Eliot's doomed relationship with his first wife, Vivienne Haigh-Wood. They met when he was a student at Oxford in 1915, but the whirlwind romance and hasty marriage were blighted by Viv's physical and psychological instability, and ended some twenty years later with her committal in a mental institution. Yet despite their problems Vivienne worked closely with Tom and was a huge influence and inspiration in his early work. Had Tom and Viv not been embroiled in their tempestuous relationship, The Waste Land might never have been written.
Hastings' fascinating, moving and witty play reveals the social ambition and steely resolve of one of our most acclaimed writers, and the cruelty of the English class system and establishment in its treatment of a physically and mentally sick woman.
Says Director, Joseph Kenneway, “In many ways it is Vivienne who is at the heart of this play. She is a woman suffering physically and mentally, misunderstood and let down by friends and family - and her husband. Yet, through it all she continued to contribute to Eliot‟s work and to defend him against detractors.
“The bulk of Eliot's papers are still unknown to us, so Hastings' research and controversial portrayal of the relationship offers us a richly entertaining insight into this important figure.”
Tom and Viv runs at the Moser Theatre from 7 – 11 December. Full details can be found at www.111theatre.co.uk.