Michael Palin 'delighted' as his play becomes a comic opera

Michael Palin

Michael Palin - Credit: John Swannell

Michael Palin is 'delighted' that his play has been adapted by a Highbury opera company.

The Gospel Oak resident is looking forward to Highbury Opera Theatre’s jazz-infused version of The Weekend, about a misanthrope whose peace and quiet is invaded by his needy daughter, her boorish husband, hyperactive child and incontinent dog.

Featuring music by Scott Stroman and a witty libretto by Tamsin Collison, it runs at Bloomsbury Theatre this month.

The Monty Python star said: “I’ve had some strange suggestions for my work, but The Weekend as an opera… I thought Scott was pulling my leg!” 

But after seeing extracts from the show he added: “It really should have been written as an opera, from the start. I never would’ve believed this, but it just gives this quite intimate tale a terrific sort of drama which really brings it to life. There are moments when it takes off and you think ‘My God was I responsible for this!’ -  Wagner probably went through all this you know:  it was just a sketch, this sketch about the Nibelungen,” he added with a laugh.

Blending both professionals and talented non-professionals, the Islington opera company usually performs at the Union Chapel and has previously adapted Shakespeare's As You Like It and Fever Pitch, Nick Hornby's autobiographical novel about Arsenal Football Club.

In rehearsals for The Weekend which runs at Bloomsbury Theatre this month

In rehearsals for The Weekend which runs at Bloomsbury Theatre this month - Credit: Courtesy of Highbury Opera Theatre

The role of curmudgeonly retiree Stephen Febble was originally played in the West End in 1994 by Richard Wilson. Now Adrian Thompson appears in Palin's Ayckbourn-esque comedy as a man looking for a quiet weekend, who ends up self sabotaging at an unwanted cocktail party.

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Scott Stroman who co-founded the company in 2011 to create dynamic contemporary music theatre in the Highbury community, said, “Michael Palin has been a dream to work with. After seeing our previous work, he offered his full support, though he wasn’t sure how his play would translate into music. After hearing the result, he said, ‘Now I see why the play caught your imagination.'"

The Weekend is at the Bloomsbury Theatre 25-27 September.  https://www.ucl.ac.uk/culture/whats-on/weekend