“Wah-Wah” is a semi-autobiographical ‘coming of age at the end of an Age’ story, told through the eyes of young Ralph Compton (“About A Boy’s” boy, Nicholas Hoult). Set during the last gasp of the British Empire in Swaziland, South East Africa, in 1969, the plot focuses on the dysfunctional Compton family whose gradual disintegration mirrors the end of British rule. As an 11 year old, Ralph witnesses his mother’s adultery with his father’s best friend. His parents divorce and Ralph is sent to boarding school. Harry Compton not only loses his wife and best friend, but also his position as Minister of Education with the coming of Independence, prompting his rapid descent into alcoholism.
Now 14, Ralph returns home to discover that his father has re-married an American ex-Air hostess called Ruby whom he has known all of six weeks. As round a peg as you could find in this square holed society, Ruby ridicules the petty snobbery of Colonial life by identifying Colonial-speak as sounding like a load of old ‘Wah-Wah’. Although Ralph is initially wary of Ruby, he bonds with her as his father’s drinking escalates dangerously out of control. Meanwhile, the community frenziedly prepares an amateur production of ‘Camelot’ to impress Princess Margaret who is visiting to preside over Independence. Ralph gets cast, falls in love and discovers a way to escape his hellish home life. (Photo above: The now six-foot, three inch, soon-to-be seventeen year old, Nicholas Hoult.)