A brand-new radio play of David Nicholls’ hit 2005 comic novel The Understudy will be performed by a stellar cast including Stephen Fry and released next month to raise funds for the theatre industry which is facing a devastating impact from the Covid-19 health crisis.
The Understudy, adapted by Henry Filloux-Bennett and directed by Giles Croft, will be broadcast in two parts – on Wednesdays 20 and 27 May 2020 – is produced by the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield, which will split proceeds of the project with charities including the Theatre Development Trust (SOLT and UK Theatre), Acting for Others and Equity Charitable Trust.
Coming together at a time that matters the most, the stellar line-up of actors currently confirmed to perform in The Understudy includes Stephen Fry, Emily Atack, Sheila Atim, Layton Williams, Russell Tovey, Sarah Hadland and Mina Anwar. They are joined by Jake Ferretti, Sasha Frost, Marie Lawrence, James McNicholas and Lizzie Muncey, with further cast to be announced.
The cast and creative team involved will take part completely in isolation; actors will record their lines at home and these will be brought to life by an exceptional sound design team.
Based on the novel by the best-selling author David Nicholls, The Understudy tells the story of an underdog – a failed husband, a failing father, a failing actor, and the impossible choice he’s going to have to make between stealing the show and stealing another man’s wife.
This is a stage adaptation originally commissioned by The Lowry and written by Henry Filloux-Bennett, whose other writing credits include the award-winning adaptation of chef Nigel Slater’s autobiography Toast. The sound, music and effects will be brought to life by Alexandra Faye Braithwaite, Annie May Fletcher and Sophie Galpin.
Commenting on the project, Stephen Fry said:
“I am just so delighted to be working on Henry Filloux-Bennett’s superb adaptation of David Nicholls’s The Understudy. I do hope lots of you will listen in and combine a good time with support for our wonderful theatre industry.”
David Nicholls added: “I’ve always had soft spot for The Understudy and was hugely excited to see it come to life on a new online stage, and with such a great team. So much is changing, at such speed and I’m full of admiration for the way it’s now being reimagined. I can’t wait.”
A spokesperson for SOLT and UK Theatre said: “We welcome this initiative and are delighted that money raised will be donated to support theatres across the country – particularly outside London where the industry needs it most. It has never been more vital that our industry pulls together, and it is fantastic to see artists and performers using creativity and ingenuity to help support the theatre workforce through this difficult time.”
The public will be able to tune in to listen to The Understudy on 20 and 27 May 2020 by buying a £5 ticket, which all proceeds going to help individuals and organisations struggling because of Coronavirus. For further information, visit www.understudyplay.com.
#DavidNicholls‘ 2005 comic novel #TheUnderstudy, about an actor understudying a Hollywood star in a #WestEnd play, has been adapted by @FillouxPastry as a radio play to raise funds for those in the theatre industry struggling during #coronavirus crisis. #ST pic.twitter.com/8m42weGsTt
— Terri Paddock (@TerriPaddock) April 6, 2020