Entertainment James Norton to Lead a Tortured Existence in the West End Adaptation of ‘A Little Life’
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They said it couldn’t be done (or is that shouldn’t be done?) but A Little Life has been adapted into a West End theatre show, and is set to feature James Norton as the tortured main protagonist, Jude St. Francis.
While a Dutch version clocking in at a hefty four hours plus was staged in Amsterdam in 2018, this is the first English speaking adaptation of the million-selling 2015 novel by Hanya Yanagihara. After previews at the Richmond Theatre March 14 to 18, it will run at the Harold Pinter Theatre from March 25 to June 18, 2023.
Directed by Ivo Van Hove, who helmed the Dutch production, Norton will star alongside It’s A Sin’s Omari Douglas who will play JB, while Bridgerton’s Luke Thompson has been cast as Willem and Zach Wyatt will play Malcolm.
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The 814-page book tells the story of a group of four men who meet in college in New York; their relationship, how they navigate their friendship through their troubled personal histories and whether love can ever truly heal the horrors of the past.
Much of the focus is on Jude, who asnoted: “Is one of the most accursed characters to ever darken a page”; he was raised in a monastery and repeatedly sexually abused as a child, beaten, kidnapped, sex trafficked and forced into sexual slavery, and run over with a car. As the theatre , it comes with a 16+ guidance and is not a show for those looking for a bit of light entertainment: “This production includes strong language, nudity, sexual violence, physical and emotional abuse, self-harm, and suicide.”
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"We are going back to Erathia - are you coming?"If so, I have great and extremely specific news: The nice people at Archon Studios are making a licensed HOMM3 board game, complete with miniatures, monsters, and an approximation of the tactical battles that made the Heroes of Might and Magic games so popular.
Yanagihara called the West End show “a singular production, unlike anything I’ve seen before on stage,” and added: “I hope audiences will be as transported and astonished as I was.”
Director Van Hove added: “It’s a joy to be returning to the London stage, to a community that has made us feel so welcome… [it’s] quite genuinely a dream come true.”
The book was lauded when it was first released and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. But aslater noted: “The novel was greeted with widespread acclaim, heralded by as 'The Great Gay Novel' and pored over in tear-flooded book clubs. But its reputation has since become more divisive, with critics who consider its torment of Jude to be manipulative and excessive.”
In 2022, Yanagihara toldhow plans for a TV series of A Little Life had been thwarted as the content was too harrowing for most broadcasters and streamers. Despite initial interest from a few companies, her scripts have never been picked up, she said, and “since then it’s been pretty much rejected by everyone”. She added: “I have heard a couple of people say that they wanted it to be like Sex and the City…[but] I do feel that I would owe the readers and the fans of this book something, and it would not be just to sell it for the sake of selling it, and to have it made into something completely unrecognisable that betrays the themes and the tone of the book.”
Tickets for A Little Life start at £15 from.
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Another star-studded lineup.