In Cambridge in 1915, awkward American graduate Tom (Keen) meets the wild Vivienne Haigh-Wood (O’Connor) and a whirlwind romance leads to a hasty marriage. But as Tom finds literary success, Viv’s volatility becomes harder to bear. Tom and Viv premiered at the Royal Court in 1984 and was made into a 1994 film starring Willem Dafoe and Miranda Richardson.
Born in England but raised in Australia, O’Connor made her West End debut five years ago in Anthony Page’s revival of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, in which she was Maggie to a Brick played by Hollywood’s Brendan Fraser. The actress is best known internationally for her screen credits such as The Importance of Being Earnest, A.I., Bedazzled, Mansfield Park and The Lazarus Child. Her New York stage credits include Much Ado About Nothing, The Lady from the Sea and Lady Windermere’s Fan.
Keen’s many London stage credits include Five Gold Rings (at the Almeida), The Coast of Utopia, The Duchess of Malfi, Pericles, The Rubenstein Kiss and, most recently, Cheek by Jowl’s The Changeling. The Tom and Viv cast also includes Anna Carteret (Nathan the Wise, Absolutely! (perhaps)), Laura Elphinstone (The Crucible, Breathing Corpses), Robert Portal and Benjamin Whitrow.
Michael Hastings’ other plays include The World’s Baby, Lee Harvey Oswald, Unfinished Business and Calico, centring on another literary relationship (between Samuel Beckett and James Joyce’s family), which premiered in the West End in 2004. The Almeida’s production of Tom and Viv is the first London revival of the play in 22 years.
- by Terri Paddock