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Previewed 7 October 2005, Opened 18 October 2005, Closed 14 January 2006 at the Wyndham's Theatre in London
Gerald Sibleyras' new comedy Heroes in London starring Richard Griffiths, John Hurt and Ken Stott, translated by Tom Stoppard.
Set in French military hospital in 1959 where three veterans Gustave, Philippe and Henri reside. Their days are spent, sitting on their terrace, overlooking a beautiful view of the popular trees and beyond... Each day is taken up with their plan for escape - could today be the day they do?
The cast for Heroes in London features Richard Griffiths as 'Henri', John Hurt as Gustave' and Ken Stott as Philippe'. Gerald Sibleyras' Le Vent de Peupliers (The Wind in the Poplars) has been been translated and adapted by Tom Stoppard. The production is directed by Thea Sharrock with designs by Robert Jones, lighting by Howard Harrison, music by Steve Parry, sound by Simon Baker and projections by Jon Driscoll. Thea Sharrock's recent London theatre directing credits include Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit (Savoy Theatre 2004) and Caryl Churchill's Top Girls (Aldwych Theatre 2002).
"The comedy might be gentle, but Stoppard's brilliant translation and the super-trouper cast make Heroes a must... The play never quite gives in to the overwhelming sense of sadness that hovers around the lives of these men, preferring instead to play up their eccentricities, their follies, their quiet desperation. It can be sentimental yet the cast and script are so gently beguiling that it's hard to be affronted." The Sunday Times
"Without a doubt, Thea Sharrock's production of Heroes offers a masterclass in acting, with Ken Stott, Richard Griffiths and John Hurt in three of the finest, funniest, most poignant performances to be seen in the West End. I can't, however, see every middle-aged male actor in Britain and America queueing to play all three parts in a run that lasts for years and years because, absorbing and artful as Tom Stoppard's translation of Gerald Sibleyras's work is, it's nothing like as playful or as provocative as Art... But it passes the time while also, very subtly, breaking our hearts." The Mail on Sunday
"Heroes is aching to step into the spot vacated by Yasmina Reza's long-running Art: short French play with three men which says it all about friendship. Gerald Sibleyras's comedy has a lustrous cast; it's translated by Tom Stoppard and directed by the sharp Thea Sharrock... There are a couple of good Stoppardian jokes and some winning bits of business from extraordinary actors... But Sibleyras has supplied a bland evening. He plays around with a bit of farce... he puts a tentative toe into tragedy, but the whole thing might as well all take place on Hovis Hill, so gently and evenly regretful is the mood." The Observer
"Such is the quality of acting in the English version of French writer Gerald Sibleyras's play, that had Sir Tom Stoppard translated a telephone directory audiences would probably still have had a great time. Set in 1959, Heroes has three First World War veterans - 'two crocks and a crackpot' - moaning about life and plotting escape from the military hospital they regard as prison. Movie star John Hurt is the haughty, deranged Gustave, hiding his fear of the outside world under a tough exterior. As Philippe, Ken Stott from TV's The Vice, constantly throws wobblies - a lump of shrapnel in his head means he keeps collapsing, once into an open grave. And the great - in more ways than one - heavyweight Richard Griffiths's Henri eyes up young girls in the school next door while wondering if his companions are totally bonkers. The plot's so slim it could be anorexic but there's laughter galore plus a tear or two in 90 minutes of sheer class." The Sun
Tom Stoppard on translating the play: "One of the attractions of translating Heroes is that it's not the kind of play that I write. If it had been, I probably wouldn't have wanted to translate it. There are no one-liners. It's much more a truthful comedy than a play of dazzling wit. It's a kind of exquisite pain. You feel rather mean for laughing at these characters because, for them, there is nothing amusing about their plight. Nothing much changes for these men. It's another day and they're still there, still turning over the same hopes and fears." The plays author Gerald Sibleyras on the translation: "I was honoured but also a bit anxious when Tom agreed to translate my play because I didn't know how he works. In the event, he asked me every time he wanted to change a line and, slowly but surely, the play improved. It's much tighter now."
Heroes in London at the Wyndham's Theatre previewed from 7 October 2005, opened on 18 October 2005 and closed on 14 January 2006.