"We seek him here, we seek him there….”
The 18th century swashbuckling dandy, inspiration for the Batman, Superman, Spiderman archetype, is set to make a rumbustious return to the stage in an epic production directed by Bard in the Botanics’ Associate Director Jennifer Dick.
The company has set out to raise an additional £80,000 to complete the capitalisation costs of a week-long run of this large-scale production in Edinburgh in Spring 2019.
Baroness Orczy’s eponymous hero first appeared in a stage production in 1903 before her novel was published. The critics hated it. It ran for years. Further novels and short stories followed along with many film, television, radio and musical theatre adaptations. The Scarlet Pimpernel even made a brief appearance in the third series of Blackadder.
Despite being set in the French revolution, Orczy’s novels are very Edwardian in tone and the character too often played as a camp buffoon. The overall effect is often arch and rather dated.
‘I wanted to set the story firmly in the world of the beau monde in Georgian London and the police state that was Paris during the Terror’ says playwright Helen Bang. ‘The Georgians were just like us – obsessed with celebrities and shopping. And my hero is mischievous and insolent rather than camp. His special power is wit and mockery – he hurls insults like exocet missiles – a very effective weapon against tyrants who hate being laughed at.
‘Similarly many people think the French revolution was when the starving peasants rose up and beheaded the oppressive nobles – but only a fifth of the people sent to the guillotine during the Terror had titles. Most were people who had fallen foul of the regime for various reasons: journalists who had written the wrong article, rival politicians, poets, scientists, businessmen suspected of profiteering etc. What began as an optimistic revolution welcomed by many; ‘Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive…’soon turned into a nightmare. Arab Spring, anyone?
The play has already had a successful rehearsed reading with a professional cast of ten actors playing a total of 22 characters. Directed by Jennifer Dick, Associate Director of Bard in the Botanics, and designed by experienced theatre designer Carys Hobbs, this is going to be an exhilarating evening of live theatre. With sword fights. ‘One of the disappointments in the novels is that there are no sword fights. We’ll be sure to remedy that’, promises Helen.
Associate Director of Bard in the Botanics
Jennifer has been working professionally as a director in Scotland for more than 10 years. Her extensive credits as a director include Doctor Faustus, Twelfth Night, Richard II, Henry V, Julius Caesar, The Tempest, A Christmas Carol, Hamlet, Queen Margaret & Macbeth for Bard in the Botanics, Becoming (Shiny Productions), Medea (UnSub), Vivienne Grout’s Adventure in Another Metropolis (sparkleDark), David Copperfield (QMU), Much Ado about Nothing & Wars of the Roses Part Two (RCS) and Oleanna (Unscene / sparkleDark).
Jennifer has also directed in America, staging Shakespeare’s R & J for Bag&Baggage in Portland, Oregon. She recently directed for the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, staging a performance of Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream broadcast live on Radio 3.
Her productions have proved both popular with audiences and received considerable critical acclaim:
“…an astonishingly powerful account of this great play…” - Julius Caesar
***** Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman
“It was plain glorious in both music and words. Unforgettable.” - Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream
***** Michael Tumelty, The Herald
"…an extraordinary howl of rage against the horror of damnation.” - Doctor Faustus
**** Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman
"…a production of exceptional clarity.” - Richard II
**** Allan Radcliffe, The Times
Three of Helen’s short plays - Russian Roulette, Skydevil and A little trip - were performed at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow as part of their new writing initiative. Stag Night had a workshop and rehearsed reading at the Tron in 2017.
Of sound mind was performed at Short Attention Span Theatre’s April 2017 show in Glasgow. She was a contributing writer on In Transit at the GRV in Edinburgh.
Her award-winning eco show Poo! The Musical was performed by Falkirk Youth Theatre in 2015.
Carys trained in Design at QMU - Edinburgh. Her most recent projects include Bingo! for Stellar Quines & Grid Iron. Brothers Karamazov for The Tron, Coriolanus Vanishes with Fire Exit, Last Tango in Partick for NTS, CRUDE with Grid Iron & Aladdin at the Byre Theatre. Other designs include Shall Roger Casement Hang?, Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days and Colquhoun and Macbryde for the Tron Theatre; Shrapnel for Theatre Guleór and One in a Million for APA/PPP; Costume designs include Kingdom and In this Storm for Scottish Dance Theatre, The Cone Gatherers (APA).
Carys has been one of the core designers for Bard in the Botanics since 2009 with designs including Measure for Measure, Taming of the Shrew, Coriolanus, Dr Faustus, Julius Caesar and Romeo and Juliet and Costume designs including Twelfth Night, The Merchant of Venice, The Comedy of Errors, Henry V, Hamlet, A Midsummer Nights Dream & Othello. She also regularly designs Shakespeare’s for the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.