Felicity Kendal in Waste

Felicity Kendal in Waste

This is Felicity Kendal in the 1997 Old Vic production of Harley Granville Barker's Waste. She plays Amy O'Connell, a married woman pregnant as a result of extra marital dalliance with politician Henry Trebell. Amy decides to have an abortion, and dies as a result of the illegal operation, casting Trebell into a scandal which destroys his career. Reviews found Kendal's performance 'disturbingly intense'.

When Barker wrote the play in 1907, it was promptly banned by the Lord Chamberlain and was not licensed for public performance until 1920. The Times critic, having seen the play at a private club, took one view: 'The subject matter of 'Waste', together with the sincere realism with which it is treated, makes it, in our judgment, wholly unfit for performance under ordinary conditions'. However, in terms of sexual convention Waste contained nothing more offensive than many a Victorian melodrama. Many believed the real reason for the ban was the play's penetrating study of the cynicism and machinations of politicians. Indeed, on its revival in 1997, the Guardian welcomed the return of 'one of the best British political plays of the century'.