A play adaption of the Dickens' novel by the two theatre giants Terence Rattigan and John Gielgud, gets its long awaited professional world premiere.
Conceived 78 years ago with a West End opening intended. The producer at the time decided to postpone the production out of respect to the honourable Sir John Martin-Harvey who was then currently playing Sidney Carton in a farewell tour of The Only Way, his own take on the Dickens' classic. Rattigan found this a tremendous blow in the early days of his career, so he put the play to rest.
Now director Adam Spreadbury-Maher, brings his edited version to stage at the King's Head Theatre Pub, Islington. After a successful amateur run at the East 15 Drama School; he edited the script from three and half hours, forty actors to two and a half hours, eight actors. The play, published for the first time, also serves as the programme. A touching memento for such a complex history.
The Tale of Two Cities is the world's most successful novel, selling over 200 million copies. This tale of revolution, political unrest and espionage could not be more relevant today. Amidst the brutalities of the age, stands the story of love and great sacrifice.
A word-rich script however, the actors showed great physical strength throughout the performance. Experimenting and showing comfortability in their arena and parts. Stewart Agnew and John Hodgkinson were particularly outstanding. Hodgkinson showing clear emotional build as his traumatised ex-Bastille prison role. Agnew delivered his lines with such vigour and accuracy, in the possession of some scene stealing one liners. Agnew played the roguish central role of Sydney Carton as well as doubling up as the callous French aristocrat Marquis St Evrémonde. His Carton filled the stage with intensity and prowess. Like a bad boy rock star with his cloak loosely draped over, dragging himself up and down the stage as he pleased. The soundtrack complimented our unsung hero with well-timed tunes of Amy Winehouse, Kurt Cobain Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison - referencing 'the 27 club'.
Rattigan and Gielgud would be proud. A well put together production.