Tom & Viv (play)

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Tom & Viv
Tom & Viv (play).gif
Flyer for original production
Written by Michael Hastings
Date premiered1984
Place premiered Royal Court Theatre
Original language English
Setting England
[Tom and Viv Official site]

Tom & Viv is a play written by English playwright Michael Hastings. The play is based on the real life of T. S. Eliot and his wife Vivienne Haigh-Wood Eliot. [1]


To write the play, Hastings spent many months conducting interviews with friends and family of the Eliots who were still alive and read through the letters left behind from the family. The play received some controversy over painting T.S. Eliot in a less than flattering light over his treatment of his wife while she was in poor health. Hastings died in 2011. [2]


The play begins with the beginning of the courtship between T.S. Eliot and Vivienne Haigh-Wood in 1914 and ends with their separation in 1933 and Vivienne's gradual mental health decline until her death in 1947. The play also follows the early career of T.S. Eliot, the death of Vivienne's father, and how her mother Rose dealt with her daughter's failing marriage and mental health.

Historical casting

Character1984 Royal Court Theatre cast1985 The Public Theater cast1994 film cast2006 Almeida Theatre cast
Vivienne Haigh-Wood Julie Covington Miranda Richardson Frances O'Connor
T.S. Eliot Tom Wilkinson Edward Herrmann Willem Dafoe Will Keen
Rose Haigh-Wood Margaret Tyzack Rosemary Harris Anna Carteret
Maurice Haigh-Wood David Haig Tim Dutton Robert Portal

Performance history

The play premiered in 1984 at the Royal Court Theatre. The same cast, except for Wilkinson who was replaced by Edward Herrmann, traveled to New York and the play was staged at The Public Theater. The play did not transfer to Broadway, and instead returned to London for a short run. [3]

In 2006, the first major revival was staged at the Almeida Theatre starring Frances O'Connor, Will Keen, and Anna Carteret. [4]

In 2010, a production was staged at Wadham College in Oxford. [5]

Adaptations and awards

The play was adapted as a film by Hastings and Adrian Hodges with of the same name in 1993 and released in 1994 by the Weinstein Company. The film received acclaim and Miranda Richardson was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress and Rosemary Harris was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. [6]

For the Royal Court Theatre run, Julie Covington was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award for Actress of the Year in a New Play. [7]

For the original Off-broadway run, Margaret Tyzack was nominated for the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play. [8]

The play script was first published in 1985 by Penguin Books, it was revised in 1992 with additional notes, and in 2000 it was revised and released by Oberon Books. [9]

BBC adapted the play as an audiobook starring Benedict Cumberbatch as T.S. Eliot, Lia Williams as Vivienne, David Haig as Maurice and Judy Parfitt as Rose.

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  1. Figure of Controversy accessed 11/4/2016
  2. Hastings obituary accessed 10/4/2016
  3. Michael Billington (March 11, 1984). "Theater in London; T. S. Eliot becomes a figure of controversy". The New York Times . Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  4. Almeida review accessed 11/4/2016
  5. Tom and Viv Wadham accessed 10/4/2016
  6. Tom & Viv 1994 film review accessed 10/4/2016
  7. 1984 Olivier Awards accessed 11/4/2016
  8. Tom and Viv Playbill accessed 11/4/2016
  9. Tom and Viv at Goodreads accessed 11/4/2016