Books are everywhere at the moment. The Guardian have started their big autumn book swap, literature’s heavyweights are battling it out for the Man Booker Prize and the lauded, star-packed adaptation of John le Carre’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy has hit the nation’s cinemas. Theatre is in on the literary action too, with this week’s top picks all taking inspiration from the page.
Better known as the iconic 1967 film starring Paul Newman, this classic chain gang story is originally from a novel by Donn Pearce, based on his own experiences of incarceration. Pearce’s timeless narrative about defying authority is coming to the West End this week in a new stage version, starring Marc Warren as the rebellious inmate made famous by Newman. Will Warren attempt to recreate the film’s most famous scene by eating 50 eggs live on stage? Only one way to find out.
Runs from 23 September 2011 to 7 January 2012
Coming of age and loss of innocence have never been more moving than in LP Hartley’s classic novel, now transformed into a new musical at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. At the turn of the twentieth century, during a hot Norfolk summer, a young boy is swiftly robbed of his naivety as he finds himself plunged into the centre of an illicit affair after unwittingly becoming a messenger between a pair of lovers.
Runs until 1 October
These two short stories may not be great masterpieces along the lines of Oliver Twist or Great Expectations, but Dickens’ neglected narratives about a travelling salesman and a freak-show act are the basis for a night of enchanting storytelling from Simon Callow. In this one-man show, the consummate performer demonstrates once again that he can more than hold the stage on his own.
Runs until 24 September
Still going strong after more than a quarter of a century, this rousing musical version of Victor Hugo’s epic tale of discontent, rebellion and redemption is the longest-running musical in the world. With a current cast including Alfie Boe – who is reprising the lead role of Jean Valjean from last year’s 25th anniversary concert – Hadley Fraser and Alexia Khadime, I suspect that Les Miserables has one day more, plus a few more after that.
Booking until 28 April 2012
Finally, taking its inspiration from authors rather than books, Blake Morrison’s new play imagines the lives of the remarkable Bronte sisters. With more than a nod to Chekhov’s Three Sisters, this production from Northern Broadsides looks at the individuals behind the passionate, intense and extraordinarily enduring novels we all love.
Runs until 24 September