Waste (play)

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Waste is a play by the English author Harley Granville Barker. It exists in two wholly different versions, from 1906 and 1927. The first version was refused a license by the Lord Chamberlain and had to be performed privately by the Stage Society in 1907; the second was finally staged in public at the Westminster Theatre in 1936.


The plot centres around ambitious independent politician Henry Trebell, his plans for a bill to disestablish the Church of England and his fall from grace and suicide after his affair with married woman Amy O'Connell, who dies after a botched abortion. The title may refer to the waste of his potential talents due to the scandal, the loss of the disestablishment bill and the termination of Amy's pregnancy.

Dramatis personae (1927 version)[edit]

  • Gilbert Wedgecroft, Trebell's doctor
  • Walter Kent, Trebell's secretary
  • Amy O'Connell, Trebell's lover
  • Russell Blackborough, Tory MP and financier
  • Justin O'Connell, Amy's estranged Irish husband
  • Lord Charles Cantilupe, Tory MP
  • Henry Trebell, Independent and later Tory MP
  • Lady Mortimer, Lady Julia's mother
  • Bertha, the Trebells' maid
  • Frances Trebell, Henry's sister
  • Cyril Horsham, Tory Prime Minister
  • Lucy Davenport, Kent's fiancee
  • Butler at the Farrant residence
  • Vivian Saumarez, Horsham's secretary
  • George Farrant, Tory MP
  • Lady Julia Farrant, George's wife

Production history[edit]

Recent productions include a 1997 one at the Old Vic by the Peter Hall Company (with Michael Pennington as Trebell, Anna Carteret as Frances and Peter Blythe as Charles Cantilupe) and a 2008 one at the Almeida Theatre (directed by Samuel West and starring Will Keen as Trebell, Nancy Carroll as Amy and Phoebe Nicholls as Frances[1]). Recent North American productions include one in 1995 at the Shaw Festival (directed by Neil Munro) and one in 2000 directed by Bartlett Sher.