Tom & Viv at the Abbey Theatre, St Albans

Tom & Viv

Tom & Viv - Credit: Archant

The fine line between love, madness and creative genius is laid bare in Tom & Viv, the next production by the Company of Ten.

The woman who inspired – or rather drove – TS Eliot to write one of his darkest and best-known poems, The Waste Land, is the subject of the production in the Abbey Theatre Studio that opens next Thursday, April 24.

Tom & Viv tells the story of the doomed marriage of Nobel Prize-winning American poet Thomas Stearns Eliot to Vivienne Haigh-Wood, the vivacious but emotionally unstable daughter of an upper-class English family.

Although the pair had a successful professional relationship, with Vivienne often contributing to her husband’s work, the marriage was a personal disaster, leading Eliot to comment: “To her, the marriage brought no happiness. To me, it brought the state of mind out of which came The Waste Land.”

Director Tim Hoyle said: “Most people have heard of TS Eliot but Vivienne has become a phantom-like figure, on the fringe of his life. Tom & Viv has been described as ‘a reclamation project on behalf of a woman almost lost to history.

“I’m certainly not claiming the play is the truth about the marriage. It is a drama, in some ways a fiction, about actual people and events. We want the audience to leave wanting to find out more about the characters portrayed but also having seen a cracking play.”

Performances are at 8pm from next Thursday until Saturday, April 26, and from Wednesday, April 30, to Saturday, May 3. There is also a matinee at 2.30pm next Sunday, April 27.

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To book tickets go to www.abbeytheatre.org.uk or call the box office on 01727 857861.