Wood does things dif­fer­ently with foray into the adult world

He is bet­ter known for his plays for chil­dren, but David Wood has taken some bold steps with his lat­est of­fer­ing. Nick Ahad re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - STAGE -

BE­HIND his huge glasses, there is some­thing ap­pro­pri­ately child­like about David Wood as he sits in a re­hearsal room for his ver­sion of the LP Hart­ley novel The Go Be­tween.

The play­wright and au­thor, who has more than 60 plays to his name, is in Leeds at the West York­shire Play­house, where the world pre­miere of his new show will take place.

Although not en­tirely new ter­ri­tory for the 67-year-old, writ­ing a play for adults is un­usual as he has made his name, and a hand­some liv­ing, writ­ing shows for chil­dren. Not for noth­ing has he earned the man­tle The Na­tional Chil­dren’s Drama­tist.

He be­gan his ca­reer at Ox­ford, act­ing along­side Michael Palin and Terry Jones. He con­tin­ued to work in the­atre when he left Ox­ford, ini­tially as an ac­tor and ap­peared in West End and re­gional the­atre shows.

Spotting a gap in the mar­ket for qual­ity the­atre work for chil­dren, he penned his own play, to great ac­claim and went on to write plays in­clud­ing The Gin­ger­bread Man, Hi­jack over Hy­ge­nia and The See-Saw Tree. Early suc­cess estab­lished the play­wright’s rep­u­ta­tion and he went on to adapt sev­eral of Roald Dahl’s books, in­clud­ing The BFG, James and the Giant Peach, The Witches (which has been in the West End three times) and The Twits, as well as Tom’s Mid­night Gar­den.

To­day he is watch­ing over pro­ceed­ings as Roger Haines brings his lat­est script to life.

It is an­other adap­ta­tion, and the star of the show is a young­ster, but this lat­est work is very much for adults.

The Go Be­tween, which opens with the sen­tence: “The past is a for­eign coun­try, they do things dif­fer­ently there”, has previously been adapted, but that was for a film star­ring Jule Christie and Alan Bates and the adap­ta­tion was writ­ten by Harold Pin­ter.

Wood has done some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent.

“It’s quite dif­fi­cult to ex­plain to peo­ple, be­cause it’s not a mu­si­cal and it’s not a straight play. We are de­scrib­ing it as a drama with mu­sic,” he says.

The cast in the re­hearsal room are belt­ing out sweep­ing, emo­tional songs as we sit in an ad­join­ing room, watch­ing through a win­dow.

Wood is some­what ner­vous about see­ing the play come to life as it is nor­mally im­me­di­ately ap­par­ent if his script is work­ing or not when it gets in front of an au­di­ence.

“The great thing about writ­ing for chil­dren is that they tell you straight away if they don’t like some­thing,” he says.

“Some writ­ers might find that hor­ri­fy­ing, but it con­cen­trates the mind on get­ting it right. Adult au­di­ences, even if they can’t stand some­thing, will sit there pa­tiently and clap at the end, chil­dren have no such con­cerns about the­atre et­ti­quette.”

The story is the mem­ory of Leo Col­ston, a man who stum­bles across a trunk and is trans­ported to his past when, as a child, he was the un­wit­ting go-be­tween in a love af­fair be­tween two adults.

The idea for the show came from Richard Tay­lor, who com­posed the score and went to David with the idea.

Wood says the dif­fi­cult part with tak­ing a novel and trans­fer­ring it to the stage lays in find­ing the spine of the story.

“Once you find that you know you can make it work. We have taken some lib­er­ties with the script and switched some of the se­quence of events around, but I have done the thing that I think is important and stayed true to the heart of the story.

“The film is 40 years old now, so I don’t re­ally ex­pect peo­ple who are fans of the film to come along hop­ing for a faith­ful adap­ta­tion of it, but even if they have seen it, they will hope­fully see that we are telling the story with re­spect.”

DAVID WOOD: “We have taken some lib­er­ties with the script, but I have done the thing I think is important and stayed true to the heart of the story.”

RE­HEARSAL: Richard Kent, left, Ed­ward Cooke, Wil­liam James Mercer, James Stad­don and Gemma Page in The Go Be­tween.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.