Chevalier’s 1999 historical novel was inspired by 17th-century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer’s masterpiece of the same name. In the fictional story, Vermeer hires the teenage girl Griet to help in his house. But it’s not long before she becomes more than just a servant: she starts to help him in his studio, learning the art of painting by watching the master. And then, secretly, Vermeer begins to paint her, asking her to pose for his most famous portrait.
In the 2003 Hollywood film version, Scarlett Johansson starred as Griet with Colin Firth as Vermeer. In the stage version, the parts are taken by Kimberley Nixon and Adrian Dunbar. The cast also features Sara Kestelman (as Maria Thins), Niall Buggy (Van Ruijven) and Lesley Vickerage (Catherina), who are joined by Maggie Service, Jonathan Bailey and Flora Spencer-Longhurst. The stage adaptation is written by David Joss Buckley.
The premiere production, which was first seen at Cambridge Arts Theatre in early September, is directed by Joe Dowling, with set and lighting by Peter Mumford, costumes by Fotini Dimou, sound by Matt McKenzie and original music by Christopher Gunning. It’s produced by Brian Eastman and Andrew Welch.
The next production scheduled for the Haymarket is a new adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island (See News, 4 Sep 2008), which runs for a Christmas season from 17 November 2008 (previews from 7 November) to 28 February 2009. Keith Allen makes his West End debut playing pirate Long John Silver in Sean Holmes’ production, which is also produced by Eastman and Welch.
- by Terri Paddock