Proud Haddock has established a growing reputation for rediscovering classic plays and writers under the artistic direction of Jimmy Walters. After chairing an event with Jimmy at his production of Mrs Orwell last year at Southwark Playhouse, I’m delighted to reunite with Jimmy for his return to the Finborough Theatre with the first UK production in nearly 30 years of Tony Harrison’s Square Rounds…
Fritz Haber, a German Jewish chemist, has been ordered by the Kaiser to develop a deadly poison gas to help Germany win the First World War. Despite the protestations of his wife, Haber hopes that his new invention will be an opportunity to escape his status as an outsider in German society. Little does he know, however, that his invention will go on to be used to exterminate his own people in the Holocaust just 25 years later.
American inventor Hudson Maxim is concerned for his country and the frightening technological advances employed by America’s new European enemies. But he is also jealous of his brother Hiram – internationally famous for his invention of the machine gun – and deeply suspicious of his brother’s cosy relationship with the European powers.
Based on true events, Square Rounds explores the devastating effects of technology, the personal demons of the inventors, and the escalating tensions between nations in the build-up to war. The story about the devastating impact of chemical warfare and weapons of mass destruction has never been more timely.
When Tony Harrison directed the play’s premiere at the National’s Olivier in 1992/1993, the 25-strong, mixed-gender cast was led by Sara Kestelman, Maria Friedman, Jennifer Galloway, Sian Thomas, Gillian Barge and Paola Dionisotti.
Now, 26 years on, the full six-strong, all-female cast of up-and-coming stars are Eva Feiler, Gracy Goldman, Rujenne Green, Amy Marchant, Philippa Quinn and Letty Thomas.
For the Q&A after the performance on Tuesday 18 September 2018, I’ll be joined by Square Rounds‘ director and cast.