Originally banned by the censors when it was written in 1907, Waste wasn’t licensed until 1920 and didn’t reach the London stage until 1936, by which time Granville Barker had entirely re-written the dialogue.
The play looks at the scandal surrounding radical politician Henry Trebell, who soon finds his career and ideologies unravelling after conducting an affair with a married woman. Will Keen head a large ensemble cast that includes also Nancy Carroll, Peter Eyre, Phoebe Nicholls, Michael Thomas and.
Overnight and weekend critical reaction was almost unanimously euphoric, West’s revival receiving a slew of five-star ratings and no shortage of possible poster-quotes. Will Keen’s “marvellous” performance as Trebell was highlighted by all, though it was hard to find a weak link as critics lauded the “finest ensemble acting to be seen in London for ages”. It seems there can be little argument with the assertion that, with Waste, West has firmly established himself as a “director of the front rank”.
- by Theo Bosanquet