Preview: Tintin, Barbican, London

Jumping jellyfish: it's Tintin!
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The Independent Culture

The director Rufus Norris is best known for serious stage productions that include Blood Wedding and Festen. Now he has chosen Tintin - the boy reporter with a quiff and a loyal dog, Snowy - as his latest muse. With all of Tintin's 24 adventures to choose from (Hergé's Tintin in the Land of the Soviets first appeared in 1929), he was spoilt for choice. But why did Norris, who has adapted Hergé for the stage with David Greig as part of the Young Vic's Walkabout Season, plump for Tintin in Tibet?

"Most of the Tintin books are great escapades, but that doesn't necessarily make for a good piece of theatre. You need something to happen to the central character," says Norris, an associate director at the Young Vic. "I don't mean being kidnapped and being thrown off a cliff. The heart of a story is when a person comes up against some part of themselves that they have to deal with."

Other possible choices in the Tintin canon included Destination Moon, Explorers on the Moon ("the visual palette is controllable, which is important for design") and Prisoners of the Sun ("too all over the shop, geographically"). Tintin in Tibet won out because "the potential for the story is greatest". It follows our intrepid hero (played by Russell Tovey, who was last seen in The History Boys), Snowy and Captain Haddock as they battle to save their Chinese friend Chang, who is missing in a plane crash in the Himalayas.

"Tintin has to realise that his way of doing things is not the only way. He has to learn to stop fighting and to respect nature," says Norris. "He endangers his friends with the pursuit of his goals to a degree that is overzealous."

Will the cast look exactly like the cartoon characters? "In the book, Tintin has two dots for eyes and is two-dimensional. So we will get him looking recognisable - but I'm not going to worry too much about it."

29 November to 21 January (Barbican: 0845 120 7515; www.barbican.org.uk or Young Vic: 020-7928 6363; www.youngvic.org)

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