The Importance of Being Earnester, and other theatrical sequel ideas
I am writing this during tech week for my adaptation of Beaumarchais’ The Marriage of Figaro at Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre. Figaro is arguably the most famous sequel since the New Testament. I am Daniel Jackson and I am a lover of sequels.
Of course there are notables like The Empire Strikes Back, The Godfather Part 2, and (recently) The Dark Knight that critical and popular consensus have ruled superior to the originals which spawned them, but I would also add to that list Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, Gremlins 2, Toy Story 2, Crank 2 and Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. And even if they aren’t better than the original, the chances are that if I enjoyed the first movie I’ll enjoy the sequel. It’s people like me that are responsible for the moribund conservatism of modern Hollywood, I know, but there it is - the heart wants what the heart wants.
Obviously sequels are less common in the theatre than in the picture houses though I hear a rumour we might expect an Enron 2: Enroner from Lucy Prebble in the future, and possibly an After After the End from Dennis Kelly. Sadly death prevented us seeing Oscar Wilde’s vision for The Importance of Being Earnester. The most beloved characters of modern Scottish theatre however are, surely, Phil McCann and George ‘Spanky’ Farrell from John Byrne’s four-play Paisley Patterns sequence (I’m obviously aware those plays are most often referred to now as The Slab Boys but I like Paisley Patterns more so am attempting to use this forum to re-popularise it). I myself spun my debut play The Wall into a trilogy.
It may seem unusual to adapt the second work to feature Figaro and Suzanne, Count Almaviva and his Countess Rosine without first having adapted The Barber of Seville (and I have a great title for a Scottish adaptation of The Barber of Seville – The Barber of Seamill - boom and indeed boom). While I like The Barber of Seville well enough, though, I prefer Figaro and look upon it like getting to adapt The Empire Strikes Back without having to bother with A New Hope. The Marriage of Figaro is uproariously funny, it brims with poignant truths about the nature of love and some pointed satire about inequality (it was written in France in 1778 just before it all kicked off). It is a play that still has the power to engage and delight an audience in 2012 and I hope my adaptation has half the wit, half the verve and half the joie de vivre of the original. I know it’s half as long and has half as many characters.
• The Marriage of Figaro is at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, 23 March until 14 April.
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