War hero, raconteur, man of the people, heartbreaker… Olympic athlete? Here are five reasons why you should pay Peter Gynt a visit this August.
1. James McArdle and a great Scottish cast
‘I don’t give a damn what people think of me. What does it matter? I’m not a prisoner of other peoples’ opinion. I know who I am. And if thinking ill of me makes everyone happy, let them think ill. It makes no difference to me. I’m too busy, I’m too busy partying.’
Playing the rebellious antihero is Glasgow-born actor and previous Olivier Award-nominee James McArdle. The Scot was hailed as 'hilarious, tragic and magnificently watchable' by Time Out for his portrayal of the irresistible Platanov during the Young Chekhov trilogy. You may have seen him in some notable productions including the world premiere of Rona Munro's The James Plays at the International Festival in 2014, the National Theatre and Broadway revival of Angels in America and most recently, in the film Mary Queen of Scots.
He leads an amazing cast with some other Scottish faces you might recognise too. Have a look at the cast in action during rehearsals below. Look familiar? You may have seen Caroline Deyga in National Theatre of Scotland's Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour, or more recently in Local Hero at The Lyceum, Paisley's Dani Heron appeared in the National Theatre of Scotland, Perth Theatre and Stellar Quines production of The 306: Day while Ann Louise Ross has been a member of Dundee Rep's ensemble for the past 18 years.
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2. A raucous and hilarious night out
Peter Gynt is a hilarious feat of storytelling featuring talking hyenas, two-headed trolls and even a musical number or two. The thought-provoking and absurdist production takes you to new worlds while reflecting on contemporary society. It takes you on a riotous adventure as fantastic fantasist Peter tries to validate his existence (often ending up with him in some sticky situations). A must-see highlight in this year's International Festival programme, this fun night out will move you, mesmerise you and make you laugh out loud.
Polly Bennett, movement director for the production describes it as 'a huge story which is imaginative and fantastical but also really detailed and human'. Having recently worked on Killing Eve and Bohemian Rhapsody, she tells us about her role as movement director and takes us behind-the-scenes for another sneak peak into rehearsals. Take a look...
3. The production is of epic proportions
The colourful set and costumes are designed by the Tony award-winning Richard Hudson, who is particularly known for his work on Disney's stunning stage adaptation of The Lion King. The Peter Gynt story follows the character through a lifetime journey taking him from the grassy green lands of Scotland, to the pyramids of Egypt, and even on to the sunny sights of Florida. Hudson's design encapsulates them all with his exciting, modern and ever-changing set. Gaze your eyes upon some of Hudson's previous work below.
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4. From the team behind the Young Chekov trilogy
James McArdle is reunited with David Hare and Jonathan Kent, the team behind the triumphant Young Chekhov season at Chichester Festival Theatre and the National Theatre. The five-star hit from 2016 was 'translated with wit and freshness by David Hare and superbly staged by Jonathan Kent' according to the Financial Times so we know we're in for a treat with their latest adaptation. We spoke to the trio about the new production as they chatted about why Ibsen's play is still relevant today. Have a watch below.
5. Based on Ibsen's greatest masterpiece
Norwegian dramatist Henrik Ibsen's original five-act play in verse was published in 1867. Within Peer Gynt, Ibsen rejected the limitations of the stagecraft of his day, writing instead a sprawling, magical realist multitude of scenes exploring the subconsciousness, and moving between reality and fairy-tale.
In this radical new three-act version, David Hare kidnaps Ibsen’s most famous hero and runs away with him into the 21st century, transposing him from Norway to Scotland. He brings a contemporary relevance to the story by reflecting the very real and universal moral compass that everyone can relate to, and asks what exactly does it mean to be yourself?
This production takes on a whole new meaning and relevance within its modern day setting, and is definitely not one to miss.
The Edinburgh International Festival and National Theatre co-production of Peter Gynt comes to the Festival Theatre on 1-10 August 2019.