Written by a Frenchman and rendered into English by Czech-born Tom Stoppard, Heroes was described by its translator as “a very British play” and by its author as a comic take on “the universal desire to escape from the confines of life”.
It’s 1959 and Philippe, Gustave and Henri, three veterans from the First World War, dream of making their escape from the old soldiers’ home – well, at least as far as the poplar trees on the hill.
The gentle humour of this play arises from the foibles of these men as they wait for inevitable death, which they avoided in the trenches of their youth.
“Don’t talk to me about Autumn…September and October are living death.”
Gustave suffers from a crippling agoraphobia, Henri is afflicted by a gammy leg, and Phillippe periodically passes out due to a piece of shrapnel lodged in his brain.
These three old codgers live in a fantasy world of verbal duelling, sexual fantasy, and the vexed question of whether or not the nearby statue of a dog has a life of its own.
Gérald Sibleyras’s Le Vent des Peupliers (“The Wind in the Poplars”) premiered in Paris in 2002.
Tom Stoppard’s English translation opened at Wyndham’s Theatre, London, three years later, winning the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy in 2006.
In this studio production, the People’s Theatre is proud to give the play its premiere on Tyneside.