Review: Little Wars

A fabulous cast make this rehearsed reading of Steven Carl McCasland’s play Little Wars an interesting choice to stream

“What happens next?”

Raising money in aid of Women For Refugee Women, Ginger Quiff Media in collaboration with the Union Theatre have brought together a stellar cast of some of our finest actors for a rehearsed reading of Steven Carl McCasland’s play Little Wars. It is a weighty and wordy play but streaming passes last for 24 hours so you can always give yourself the interval(s) you need.

The drama imagines a dinner party between six women of considerable note. Its the early 1940s and Gertrude Stein and her girlfriend Alice Toklas are hosting an intimate soirée at their salon in the French Alps. Writers Lillian Hellman and Agatha Christie are expected but when the bell rings, it is anti-fascist freedom fighter Muriel Gardiner at the door.

What follows is a densely layered combination of character study and historical thriller as the intense connections, and in some cases outright rivalries, between the women are explored alongside the growing threat of World War II to the Jewish community, of which several of the party are a member. It’s a lot to pack in over two hours and the essential static nature of a reading doesn’t always feel like the best fit.

That said, director Hannah Chissick makes this fantasy Zoom call feel remarkably slick. And blessed with performers such as Juliet Stevenson as the acerbic Hellman forever locking horns with Linda Bassett’s Stein, it is frequently gripping. Sophie Thompson does great work with Christie’s unstoppable inquisitiveness, so too Debbie Chazen with Parker’s withering comebacks.

Little Wars is streaming until 3rd December

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