1. Why we adapted The Riddle of the Sands for the stage
It was an impossible challenge. Erskine Childers’ novel is not only an epic spy story, it is also an homage to sailing and the sea. It was an interesting experiment to see whether both aspects could be effectively translated to the stage, and I’m pleased to say that during our regional tour many big fans of The Riddle of the Sands told us we had successfully captured all the major elements of the novel.
2. The Storyline
Apart from our slightly tongue-in-cheek approach to the framework of the stage show, we have tried to stay true to the novel at all moments when real tension is required. There’s plenty of humour in the prickly relationship between stiff-upper-lip Carruthers and his boat-mad companion Davies, but as the adventure develops the growing friendship between the two men emotionally engages the audience.
3. The Historical Bits
The period of the First World War is attracting a lot of interest at the moment. The book focuses on the early years of the build up to the war, and was in fact written to alert the complacent British authorities to an imminent threat to national security. Childers captured the mood of the moment and gave us the first real ‘spy novel’: his work went on to inspire writers such as John Le Carré and James Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming.
4. The Venue
We at Chalkfoot had a great time last year at Jermyn Street Theatre with our production of Tom McGrath’s Laurel and Hardy, which was really well received by the press. The Piccadilly location and atmosphere of the theatre can’t be beaten.
5. The Cast
Matthew Brown and Tom Micklem are two very talented actors who totally understand the genre of the piece: as Davies and Carruthers the chemistry between them is just right. They are not only strong physical performers but able to switch convincingly between characters at the blink of an eye.
Riddle of the Sands continues at the Jermyn Street Theatre until 22 May 2010.
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