Sophia goes Backstage! with Far from the Madding Crowd R&D-residents


Not far from Far From the Madding Crowd


When Thomas Hardy wrote this classic, he cannot possibly have envisaged his illustrious story would be adapted to be performed by just two actors (there are over 20 characters in the story), but that is exactly what award winning director Abigail Anderson is aiming to achieve hot on the heels of her success in directing Pride and Prejudice for 2 Actors at the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds.

But how do you even begin to unravel 13 hours’ worth of reading to create a whole new production?

“My biggest quest was to find other ways to approach this book rather than starting on page one” said Abigail.

Being the kind of reader who generally starts a book on page 1, my curiosity was piqued.

I watched the quartet, Abigail, Pat Whymark (musician/singer), Martin Hodgson and Loren O’Dair (the two actors) as they threw their ideas into the mix to see what emerged at the other end:

 “Let’s focus on the sexual politics of the story”

“I love you so you owe me”

“How can we surprise and delight?”

So I was intrigued and perhaps a little apprehensive as I took my seat to watch the show.

We were immediately thrust into a potent courtship dance between Bathsheba and Boldwood,

“I think we’ve been hitched”

A 16th century poem evokes memories of Bathsheba riding bareback, and the conflict with Liddy as to who the Valentine’s card should go is full of confused emotion, which is brilliantly executed by Loren’s solo performance.

Then the verbal jousting that takes place between William Boldwood and Sergeant Troy convinces you there are two different people, each vying for Bathsheba’s attention as Martin alternates between the two characters, giving each a very different personality.

This performance, whilst in its infancy, not only focuses on the eternal power of relationships but it just goes to show, you don’t always have to start a book on page one!

Great stuff! Thanks Sophia, and thanks to our R&D artists-in-residence last week…