The beloved cult film “Withnail and I,” created by Bruce Robinson in 1987, is set to make its theatrical debut at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in May. Robinson, the original writer and director of the tragi-comedy, has adapted his work for the stage, promising fans a fresh experience of the iconic story. This production marks the world premiere of the first-ever stage adaptation of the cult classic.
Directed by Sean Foley, the artistic director of Birmingham Rep, the stage adaptation will breathe life into the characters of Withnail and Marwood (referred to as “I” in the film), portrayed as posh and straight-laced respectively. Foley, known for his award-winning productions like “The Play What I Wrote” and “The Right Size In Do You Come Here Often?”, expressed his excitement about bringing the hilarious, tragic, and wild tale of two unemployed actors on an accidental holiday to the stage. He emphasized the unique comedy and the irresistibly hilarious relationship of one of the most famous slacker duos ever created.
The original film catapulted the careers of actors Richard E Grant and Paul McGann, with Grant later earning an Oscar nomination for his role in the 2018 crime biopic “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”. Set in a cold and messy flat in London, the story revolves around the struggles of Withnail and Marwood, battling alcoholism and poverty, who decide to escape to the countryside. Their misadventures unfold when they visit uncle Monty’s cottage near Penrith in Cumbria, encountering unfriendly locals and unexpected romantic advances.
“Withnail and I” has achieved significant acclaim, featuring in polls of great films such as the British Film Institute’s list of the top 100 British films. Robinson, drawing inspiration from his own experiences trying to make a living as an actor in London, captured the essence of friendship, hardship, and hilarity in this timeless narrative. The film’s enduring popularity has made it a favorite among audiences and critics alike.
The stage adaptation, set to run from May 3 to May 25, 2024, is eagerly anticipated by fans and newcomers alike. Casting details for the production will be revealed in due course, promising an exciting lineup to bring these beloved characters to life once again. Birmingham audiences can look forward to a captivating and memorable experience, celebrating the wit, charm, and enduring appeal of “Withnail and I” in this groundbreaking theatrical rendition.