Flannery Makes Stage Comeback with Live BodiesDate: 22 June 2005
British dramatist Peter Flannery returns to the stage for the first time in more than 15 years tonight when his latest, The Bodies, premieres at the Live Theatre, Newcastle (previews from 16 June). The new play, based on Emile Zola’s novel Therese Raquin, has a limited season to 30 July.
At his stage peak in the 1970s and 80s, Flannery’s previous plays, many premiered by the Royal Shakespeare Company, included The Adventures of Awful Knawful, Heavy Days, Savage Amusement, Heartbreak Hotel and Jungle Music. Prior to The Bodies, his last new play, Singer, written in Jacobean verse and following 40 years in the life of a Polish immigrant, premiered in a 1980 RSC production starring Antony Sher.
In 1996, Our Friends in the North, Flannery’s 1982 working class saga for the RSC, was made into a nine-part series for the BBC starring Christopher Eccleston, Gina McKee, Daniel Craig and Mark Strong. His subsequent TV credits have included Rose and Maloney and The One and Only.
Flannery was inspired to write The Bodies after reading Raquin’s 1868 novel in which Therese Raquin and her lover Laurent are haunted by their murder of her husband Camille. Though Flannery was transfixed by the story, he remained unconvinced by the passion, feeling that Zola had been constrained by the mores of the time. The playwright has reset his “savagely sexual and violent” version in Victorian Tyneside.
Jill Halfpenny (pictured), who stars as Therese, is famous to TV viewers from EastEnders and Strictly Come Dancing and was seen in the West End earlier this year playing another murderess, Roxie Hart, in Kander and Ebb musical Chicago. The Bodies cast also features Craig Porter (as Camille), Ben Porter (Laurent), Colin MacLachlan (detective Michaud) and Anny Tobin (Madame Raquin). Maggie Norris directs.
- by Terri Paddock