A brand new stage production of Evelyn Waugh’s evocative and timeless story, Brideshead Revisited, adapted by Bryony Lavery, is set to visit the Theatre Royal Bath from Tuesday 3rd to Saturday 7th May, in the 50th anniversary year of Waugh’s death.
It’s 1943, and Charles Ryder unexpectedly finds himself in a place, which twenty years earlier, had made an indelible impact on his life. Memories of his first youthful encounter with the extraordinary Brideshead Manor and its beguiling assortment of eccentrics come flooding back.
The past and the present blur as Charles recalls those heady days when his life was entangled with those of Lord and Lady Marchmain and their children, Sebastian, Julia, Cordelia and Bridey and his journey was just beginning.
Chosen by Time magazine as one of the one hundred best English-language novels from 1923 to present, Brideshead Revisited was also listed in Newsweek magazine as one of the 100 best books of world literature. The novel celebrated its seventieth anniversary in 2015, and has captured readers’ imaginations since it was first published in 1945. In 1981, it was adapted into a multi award-winning television series starring Jeremy Irons, Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud and Anthony Andrews. In 2008, Brideshead Revisited was made into a film starring Michael Gambon, Emma Thompson, Matthew Goode and Ben Whishaw.
Now, a vivid reimagining of Evelyn Waugh’s classic novel by acclaimed playwright Bryony Lavery visits Bath, direct from its world premiere in April 2016 when it re-opened the historic York Theatre Royal after a major renovation.
Paul Shelley, who plays Lord Marchmain and Mr Ryder, has performed extensively at the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company. His many theatre credits also include All My Sons on national tour, Antony and Cleopatra at Shakespeare’s Globe, The House That Will Not Stand at the Tricycle, Moonlight at the Donmar Warehouse, and Macbeth at Chichester, in the West End and New York. His previous performances at the Theatre Royal Bath include So Long Life in 2001, Camille in 2003, A Man for All Seasons in 2005, Earthquakes in London in 2011, and in 2013, he played the Earl of Gloucester in King Lear alongside David Haig in Bath. His film and television credits include the roles of Jed Grey in Doctors and Edward Rattigan in Revelations, as well as A Tale of Two Cities, Doctor Who, Blake’s 7, Oh! What a Lovely War and Polanski’s Macbeth. Paul Shelley has also won multiple awards for his work as an audiobook narrator.
Caroline Harker plays the roles of Lady Marchmain and Nanny. Her theatre credits include The Railway Children for York Theatre Royal at Kings Cross Theatre; Battle Royal at the National Theatre; Things We Do For Love in the West End; and Entertaining Angels for Chichester Festival Theatre, a production which toured to the Theatre Royal Bath in 2006. Her television roles include playing WPC Hazel Wallace in six series of A Touch of Frost. She also played the roles of Celia Brooke in Middlemarch; Pru Scott-Johns in Auf Wiedersehen Pet; Wendy in Keeping Mum; Vicky in Holding On; and Betty in Hana’s Helpline. Her film credits include The Madness of King George.
Brian Ferguson plays Charles Ryder. His theatre credits include The Broken Heart and The Changeling at Shakespeare’s Globe; The Aztec Trilogy, Richard III and Dunsinane at the RSC; Earthquakes In London at the National Theatre; and Black Watch for National Theatre of Scotland. His television credits include Line of Duty and Taggart.
Rosie Hilal plays Julia. She has performed in The Hard Problem at the National Theatre; All’s Well That Ends Well, As You Like It and Hamlet at RSC; and in many productions at Shakespeare’s Globe. Her film credits include London Road.
Christopher Simpson plays Sebastian. His theatre credits include Forests on international tour; The Ramayana at the National Theatre; and Pericles for the RSC and Cardboard Citizens. His television credits include Spooks, Shameless, All about George, State of Play, Second Generation and White Teeth. His film credits include the lead role of Karim in Brick Lane.
Kiran Sonia Sawar plays Cordelia. Her television credits include the lead role of daughter Salma in Murdered By My Father, screened by BBC this March. Her theatre credits include Cyrano De Bergerac at Southwark Playhouse, and Defining Moments of Truth and Deception at Soho Theatre.
Samantha Lawson plays Cara and Celia. Her theatre credits include His Dark Materials at the National Theatre; Red Noses at Bristol Old Vic; Julius Caesar for the RSC; and The Changeling for English Touring Theatre. Her film television credits include Silent Witness.
Shuna Snow plays the roles of Bridey, Kurt and Rex. Her theatre credits include Separate Tables at the Royal Exchange; A Shoemaker, A Gentleman at Shakespeare’s Globe; and Cymbeline, Kenneth’s First Play, Little Eyolf and Much Ado About Nothing at the RSC.
Nick Blakeley plays the roles of Anthony Blanche, Father Mackay and Samgrass. His theatre credits include A Woman Killed with Kindness, 13 and Damned by Despair for the National Theatre and The Sunshine Boys in the West End.
Writer Bryony Lavery previously collaborated with English Touring Theatre on her play Thursday in 2013. Her recent work includes an adaptation of Treasure Island for the National Theatre. Her many other plays include Frozen, The Believers, Stockholm, Ophelia, Nothing Compares to You, and Flight.
Director Damian Cruden has been Artistic Director of York Theatre Royal for the past eighteen years, where he has directed numerous productions, including The Railway Children, The Restoration of Nell Gwyn, Laurel and Hardy, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Wind in the Willows, Death of a Salesman, The Hare and the Tortoise in both York and Japan, and Romeo and Juliet.
Brideshead Revisited tours to the Theatre Royal Bath from Tuesday 3rd to Saturday 7th May. Tickets are on sale at the Box Office on 01225 448844 and online at www.theatreroyal.org.uk
Photos by Helen Maybanks