Well hello there. Chris Beaumont here. With Bruce's blessing I actually adapted the screenplay for the stage back in 2000 and my production company, Hanover Productions, staged what was the first ever stage version of this incredible piece of work at the Brighton Festival in that year.
It was something I had thought about doing for sometime and, as it happens, it worked really very well.
I approached Bruce in 1999 and talked to him about the (hopefully) sensitive approach I would have towards his original screenplay and indeed, the actual subject matter which I knew was very dear to his heart. Vivian MacKerrell was a close friend of Bruce's.
I have often wondered about the point if doing an adaptation like this from something that was a huge success in it's own right but felt that a new lease of life could be brought to the piece and that it might actually increase the scope of the audience that might see it. It seems I was right.
We completely sold out over twelve nights and if it wasn't for the fact that the Komedia in Brighton already had productions booked into their space, we could have carried on for much longer, so great was the momentum that started to roll.
We had a few legal issues. Whilst Bruce had granted me permission to do the show it seems he didn't actually have the right to do that as he no longer owned the rights to the piece.
Equator Films, who owned the rights at that time did get in touch with me but not until a couple of days before the opening night (I had invited them to see it as I understood they only owned the rights to the video licence and they might be interested in sponsorship).
Patrick Meehan, the Chairman of Equator let the show go ahead on the understanding that if it was a success, we could do a co-production which could tour and go into the West End.
Needless to say, they loved it and also needless to say - they reneged on the deal and wanted to set up their own production with no input from me and my company. No matter how much I tried, I couldn't get to talk to them again and the whole thing fell apart despite the fact that I had The Ambassadors Theatre lined up for a limited West End Run of around 12 weeks.
It was no surprise to me to hear that they were trying to get their own production together with Jude Law and also no surprise that, given Bruce's relationship with them, he had vetoed it (which he is legally entitled to do).
Although he wasn't well at the time of the production and couldn't get to Brighton, Bruce did see a video of our show and was very happy with it both from a production point of view (even though it was very low budget) and also with the casting of all parts. Mark Burgess played Withnail and Richard Felix played Marwood along with a strong supporting cast. This was a fully professional production.
I would love the opportunity to take it further and since I now understand that Mr.Meehan has stepped down from Equator PLC and the company is in different hands I just might make them an offer.
If anyone would like to see photos and information about the show you can find it athttp://www.hanoverproductions.btinterne ... thnail.htm
(the site is now old and cranky but the info is there)
Sorry if this information is disappointing to some Withnail devotees but it really was very good.