Waiting for Stanley

A solitary woman is waiting for her husband to return from home. Her wait on the platform of a railway station is a long one and, when he doesn’t arrive, she invokes memories of her own life on the home front - whether it involved cooking or looking after the house - while images and sounds of wartime form a backdrop to her story.

Waiting for Stanley – devised by Leela Bunce and Alexander Parsonage of Finger in the Pie theatre – is based on the stories of wartime women.

Bunce combines wonderful facial expressions and mime with clowning and puppetry to tell a humorous story. She plays with some bread dough, shaping and forming it to look like the head of a baby, cradling it with a tea towel. Her performance is gentle and thoughtful throughout. One of the joys of the show was Bunce’s use of silhouettes, which conjured up memories of times gone by.

What is most powerful about the genre of mime, which is executed brilliantly in this piece, is its ability to capture a detailed and rich story with great simplicity. The set is simple too – an array of suitcases stacked at the railway station – but it too is capable of recreating scenes from the home or the air raid shelter. Yet it is not really the set doing this, but rather Bunce’s use of the space that helps draw in the audience, making them imagine her world.

For the most part this show works, although Bunce does have a tendency to labour the same actions a little too often. This does not, however, detract away from what is a well-rounded and ultimately poignant piece.

Reviews by Michael Wilkinson

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The Blurb

This moving physical comedy takes us back to a railway station in 1945 where a wife anxiously awaits her husband's return from the war. ‘Inventive, witty and pacy ... a real pleasure’ (TimeOut Critics’ Choice).

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