Richard Wilson, beware. It's terrifying, it's happening and I cannot stop it: I'm turning into Victor Meldrew. "I don't belieeeeeve it." There. What did I tell you? And what has occasioned this bewildering metamorphosis from your usually placid, mild-mannered, calm, carefree correspondent ["Don't push it," Ed] into this seething, quivering, expostulatory mass of astounded disbelief?
I'll tell you what. Rummaging through the tottering, towering contents of my endlessly fascinating in-tray - actually, mainly press releases and leaflets attesting to the delights to be found in every theatre in the land from Rockall, Shannon and Minches to Dover and Portland Bill - I alighted upon the spring season brochure for the Sheffield Crucible and Lyceum theatres. And what do the good burghers of that fair city have to look forward to? Why, the world stage premiere of Brassed Off. In the word which gay men have re-appropriated to mean "no", puhlease.
Now I know that many a great work has plundered an extant original for its own ends. Boito couldn't claim to have created the libretto for Verdi's Falstaff out of thin air; My Fair Lady is a damn fine bastardisation of Pygmalion... the list goes on. More to the point, TV and film have faithfully turned entire libraries into screen successes. (Roger Michell's immaculate BBC Persuasion... and where would Colin Firth be without Pride and Prejudice?).
Plays too have made it big on screen. Think A Streetcar Named Desire, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Sound of Music. The reverse is not true. Some Like It Hot became a bad stage musical, Sunset Boulevard only reminded you how good Billy Wilder's original was, and Summer Holiday was a Darren Day fan event only. Despite a fistful of good intentions, the stage version of Wallace and Gromit is but a pale imitation of the Oscar-winning originals. So what, pray tell, is the point of putting Brassed Off on stage? I have nothing against the film. Writing in this very organ, Steven Poole declared that watching it, "it's impossible to mould your features into anything other than a very wide grin of delight."
Somehow, though, I think that the absence of locations and huge brass bands (not to mention Tara Fitzgerald and Ewan MacGregor) might prove, er, problematic.
Still, if that's the way it's going, here's my list of films we need to see (cue threatening, gravelly voice) "At a theatre NEAR YOU". Battleship Potemkin, the Musical (how stupid of Eisenstein not to include songs); Alien; Lawrence of Arabia; and, my personal favourite, The Poseidon Adventure.Reuse content