Todd's War

Written by Steve Farnfield

Thursday 7th May to Saturday 9th May and Monday 11th May to Saturday 16th May 1987

Directed by Jacquie Penrose

World premiere of prize-winning play - a bleak but sometimes funny view of life in the 80s. Todd and his gang dream of ancient glories and a new purified Britain. Revolution is their aim - if only they dare.
Financially supported by TVS Trust and Southern Arts.

AuthorSteve Farnfield

Steve Farnfield

Steve Farnfield lives in Southsea, Hampshire and works as a social worker in Chichester. He was the winner of the 1986/7 Bench Theatre playwriting competition. He began writing plays in 1980 and 'Todd's War' is his first successful work.

PlayTodd's War

'Todd's war' was the winning play in the 1986/7 Bench Theatre playwriting competition. In the opinion of the Bench Theatre judging panel, 'Todd's War' was admired for its sensitivity to language, its theatricality, and perhaps above all for its strong contemporary feel. It is about a disillusioned idealist who dreams of smashing a sick society and restoring it to a more primitive state. His chosen spark is football hooliganism. He attracts a gang around him but things don't go according to plan. Described as a strong anti-war piece, and very much a play of the 80s. It is interspersed with wry and witty comedy.

'Todd's War' centres around Winston Todd, who dreams of restoring a society to what he thinks was its original primitive and pure state, but the end result is a grim disaster. The play is set on an abandoned airfield in a city, not unlike Portsmouth, over a period of two days.

The Bench Production

Todd's War poster image

This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.


Winston ToddDavid Penrose
George MoonSimon Iggledon
Scatter HargreavesPeter Holding
Jim BoswellAlan Jenkins
Norman PikeDavid Hemsley-Brown
BusterGillian Lea
LouiseJude Salmon
Mr TatePeter Corrigan
Inspector MackieFrank Lyons


Director Jacquie Penrose
Stage Manager Jo German
Assistant Stage Manager Jude Salmon
Lighting Operation Belinda Egginton
Sound Vincent Adams
Costumes Ruth Prior
Poster Design Pete Woodward
Set Construction Bill Bickers
Props Tony Kellaway
Lezley Picton

Director's Notes

During the 1986 Playwriting competition, I read about sixty scripts of varying degrees of interest and competence. 'Todd's War' was about the fortieth. I picked it up at around midnight one night, thinking I'd take a look at just one more before going to bed, and it was the small hours before I finished it. By then, I knew not only that it was a winner, but that I very much wanted to direct it. I was caught by the strength of the language, by its sense of theatre, and by its immediacy; this is a play which vividly evokes life in the eighties - the shabbiness, disillusionment, and sense of wasted opportunities and potential. I admired its humour and the sharpness of its message: that war - and all its substitutes - is an outmoded and dangerous game and it's high time we grew out of it.

Working on a brand new play - helping to bring it to life for the very first time, is a uniquely exciting experience, and I am very grateful to have had the chance on this occasion. A production is always a team effort - between actors, director and stage crew. But without a good script the effort is pointless. Our work is demanding and rewarding, but essentially ephemeral, it is the words of the writer that live on, long after a particular production has been forgotten. I hope we have helped to launch this script on the road to a very long life.

Jacquie Penrose


The NewsAnon

Review Headline

The intensity and insanity of a man gripped with a vision of revolution in the 1980s provides the theme for the latest production by Havant's Bench Theatre. 'Todd's War' is the first play ever penned by Southsea playwright Steve Farnfield, and it is both stimulating and intriguing.

Todd is a man fuelled by a futile ambition - to spark massive public disorder through football hooliganism and recreate a pure and primitive society. Backed by a confused collection of drop outs and criminals, he embarks on a doomed campaign which results in shocking violence and inevitable tragedy. The play, which is being staged at the Old Town Hall Arts Centre, is performed by a collection of talented and convincing Bench Theatre actors. The character of Todd is played by David Penrose, husband of the play's director Jacquie, and he masterfully develops the leader's growing insanity and ruthlessness.

Dry and witty humour punctuate the play's gradual increase in tension and action, and even in the most serious moments the writer manages to prompt a relieving laugh. "Todd's War" earned Mr. Farnfield £300 when it won the first prize in the Bench Theatre's international playwriting contest and the director is convinced it will earn him widespread recognition.

The News 8th May 1987

Production Photographs