Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

heroes cast

In rehearsal: Stuart Wishart, Colin Young and Patrick Bentley sit on their terrace contemplating escape   


The Nonentities

The Rose Theatre, Kidderminster


If it were possible to amalgamate the gentle musings of the three retired gentlemen in Last of the Summer Wine, with the madcap military antics of Dad's Army, then you would potentially have the framework and makings of Heroes, a play by Gerald Sibleyras.

This poignant, gentle and often laugh out loud work, was translated by Tom Stoppard and centres on three war veterans at a hospital retirement home. Through them we find out about life in the home, their characters, and past experiences. Whilst trapped in their daily boredom and speculating their end of life options, they imagine a life outside the walls, remember their own lives and plan their possible future.

This production has taken quite some time to stage for The Nonentities, with it being ready for delivery two years ago, but then being prevented from it being staged due to the first round of Covid lockdowns. 

Thankfully the team have persisted and the studio at the Rose is the perfect setting for this very intimate performance, directed by Pamela Meredith.

Set in 1959, the three war veterans Henri, Gustave and Phillipe meet every day on the garden terrace of their convalescent hospital.

Henri, played superbly by Colin Young, has sustained a leg injury and seems resigned to his fate.

the dog in heroes

And then there is the dog . . .

But only he has the notion to venture out into the local village and takes inspiration from his tales of an encounter with the local girls’ school and an attractive tutor. One of the Nonentities regular players, Patrick Bentley, took the part of Phillipe. Phillipe is ever the optimist and inquisitor, obsessed with the new arrivals, the other inmates and his own theories of who will die off first. Mr Bentley also had the more physical of the three roles often having to lull into blackouts in his chair as his character carries a shrapnel wound.

Stuart Wishart was Gustave, a complex and acerbic man who seems to be physically intact, yet his reluctance to leave the grounds is a mystery until we discover his ailments are more of the mind. Mr Wishart was first class in his role and completed what was very efficient and convincing trio of performances.

While the play is often quiet and reflective in its tone, there are some very funny moments due mainly to a journal that the men decide to keep. These entries when read out reduce the audience to peals of laughter, but never once did the players lose sight of their characters even in the close proximity of the studio setting.

It is understood that Gerald Sibleyras wrote the play over a ten year period and it certainly feels well crafted. Perhaps the two year wait for the Nonentities to stage it, has further helped mature the balance and timing evident here, that is needed to being this gem of a play to life. To 09-04-22.

Jeff Grant


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