Night on the Field of Waterloo
24:7 Theatre Festival at New Century House
A couple of years early to be celebrating an anniversary, Thomas Bloor's play is set in Belgium in 1815 after the fighting has ended in the Battle of Waterloo.
Nel and Tosh are on the battlefield, looking for the bodies of their dead husbands Sid and Nate—the latter is dizzy Tosh's third husband, and she isn't bothered too much about losing any of them—as night falls. However strong-willed Nel is worried about how they will cope now that they have no husbands to support them and wonders whether they (or perhaps she) might cope better if they parted company for good.
Into this double act come two other characters with their own stories. Mike (Eddie Capli) is an old flame of Nel, perhaps her only true love, whom she comes across dying on the battlefield. Charlotte (Vivienne Bell) is a young gentlewoman due to give birth at any moment but fleeing her family—in particular her violent brother William (Lewis Marsh)—who do not know she is pregnant but are keen to take her back home.
The play therefore comes over as a series of discreet episodes interspersed with the chatter between the two new widows, a bit like Godot, but perhaps the relationship between the characters is nearer to Steptoe and Son—I must write my thesis on the influence of Beckett and Pinter on the British sitcom—in that one character is trying to leave and the other is trying to stop him/her while the audience knows they'll never part.
The most successful parts of the play are those between the two women, as the dialogue is pacy and witty and there is a real spark between Holly Fishman Crook as Nel and Louise Bloor as Tosh. The intervening stories have some strong moments, but the characters don't seem as well-developed and at times they become repetitive or sentimental.
But overall there is some strong writing and acting and reasonably tight direction from Barry Evans—except for the odd decision to keep stopping between scenes for someone to come on and shuffle a few props around the stage—making this definitely one worth seeing.
Reviewer: David Chadderton