New Waugh-Themed Play in the Works

The literary agency Curtis Brown has posted a notice regarding one of their clients who is working on a new theatrical play that will be of interest to our readers:

Sophie Swithinbank is a London based playwright. Her play, Bacon, won the 2018 Tony Craze Award, and she is currently developing the piece at Soho Theatre. Sophie is Writer In Residence at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, through the David Bradshaw Creative Writing programme, with whom she is commissioned to write a play (working title Arcadia) inspired by the works of Evelyn Waugh.

Sophie explains her project in more detail on her University of Leicester staffblog:

My premise is fairly simple. I plan to write a short play (working title Arcadia), that is based on the story of Brideshead Revisited, but is set in present day Oxford (much like how Pride and Prejudice joyously became Bridget Jones’ Diary, which went down pretty well, internationally). The pillar of this new piece of work, is that the central friendship will be between two young women, rather than two young men. […] Translating this story to 2019 means embracing the fact that Oxford now pullulates with deserving, respected and strong women, both within and beyond the University. Over the sunny bank-holiday weekend, I saw a millennial Oxford pullulating on Port Meadow with picnics, Kendrick, t-shirts worn over only one shoulder, marijuana cigarettes, bikes, top knots, dreadlocks, bikinis, beers, speakers, trainers, iPhones and half-cooked chicken on tin foil barbeques. The world in Arcadia, will embrace this sunny, and slightly doomed millennial Oxford.

The story at the centre of Brideshead Revisited is a potently timeless one of love, friendship, power and addiction, but the characters at the centre of the story are not timeless. Grown men with teddy-bears and servants, champagne and strawberries no longer exist here (apart from the odd few). I plan to prove that the modern women of Oxford can take up as much space as their male predecessors, Captain Charles Ryder and Lord Sebastian Flyte.

She also offers this brief outline (very rough and subject to change) of her play: 

Charley is alone in Oxford. She gets a job. Sab is surrounded by money and friends and parties. She does not need a job. They meet by chance one afternoon on Port Meadow. They form an unexpected, intense and, at times, exhaustingly close friendship, that means everything to both of them. As the dry summer cracks onwards towards September, it becomes clear that Sab isn’t the happy, healthy, wealthy girl she seemed to be, but is grappling with some dark and toxic secrets. Charley makes it her mission to save Sab from these dark places, putting her own life and happiness in jeopardy.

As Sab’s outbursts wear Charley down, and the friendship becomes ever darker and saturated with addiction, Charley starts to wonder how she will ever break free of this intoxicating friendship.


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