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An earthly visit to Lyric Hammersmith for Shared Experience



Preview by Jack Foley

SHARED Experience will bring a new stage adaptation of the literary classic, Gone to Earth, by Helen Edmundson, and based on Mary Webb’s 1916 novel, to the Lyric Hammersmith for four weeks in May.

The play is set against the backdrop of the First World War, as Hazel Woodus lives happily in her forest cottage, in the English countryside, at one with the wind and seasons.

Her beauty and innocence prove irresistible to the men around her, but their obsessive passions subsequently threaten to tear her apart.

Webb wrote Gone to Earth at the height of the First World War, when many young men had literally ‘gone to earth’, and received widespread critical acclaim, even though it was largely ignored by the public, in favour of heroic war stories.

It was only after her death, aged 46, that the novel captured the popular imagination.

 

The story has been adapted for Shared Experience by Edmundson, who has previously adapted Anna Karenina and Mill on the Floss.

The cast features newcomer, Natalie Tena, as Hazel, along with Amelda Brown, Michelle Butterley, Jay Villiers and Simon Wilson, as well as original harp music, by Olly Fox and songs, by Helen Edmundson.

Shared Experience are well-known for their innovative theatre work, especially their preference for embracing new writing and new literary adaptations, then combining these with physical theatre.

Past hits have included Jane Eyre, A Passage to India, The Magic Toyshop and Madame Bovary, and several have transferred to the West End.

The company’s recent original piece, the award-winning After Mrs Rochester, which was written and directed by joint artistic director, Polly Teale, and starred Diane Quick as novelist Jean Rhys, enjoyed an extended West End season, last Summer, at the Duke of York’s Theatre.

Gone to Earth will be at London’s Lyric Hammersmith from May 11 to June 5.

 

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