The Scarlet Pimpernel

This show has now closed, click here for a listing of current and future London shows

Previewed 5 December 1985, Opened 11 December 1985, Closed 12 April 1986 at Her Majesty's Theatre in London

A major new stage production of Baroness Orczy's The Scarlet Pimpernel in London, adapted for the stage by Beverley Cross, and starring Donald Sinden as 'Sir Percy Blakeney'.

We seek him here, we seek him there! The tale of the elusive English hero who snatches helpless innocents from death during the French Revolution. The Scarlet Pimpernel works in the shadows, his identity unknown even to his immediate followers. So disinterested is he in claiming credit for his heroism that he affects the persona of the biggest fool in London. He stands for English stability and against chaos and passionate fanaticism. This production transfers to London's West End for a Christmas season following a successful summer season at the Chichester Festival Theatre in East Sussex earlier this year.

The cast for The Scarlet Pimpernel features Donald Sinden as 'Sir Percy Blakeney', Joanna McCallum as 'Marguerite, Lady Blakeney' and Charles Kay as 'Citizen Armand Chauvelin' along with Michael Simkins as 'Sir Andrew Ffoulkes', Iain Mitchell as 'Lord Anthony Dewhurst' and Rowland Davies as 'Prince of Wales'. The production is directed by Nicholas Hytner with set designs by Mark Thompson, music by Jeremy Sams and fights by Malcolm Ransom.

"This famous and much-loved children's tale of intrigue, derring-do and francophobia was first adapted for the stage by Baroness Orezy and her husband Montague Barstow in l903 and enjoyed a colossal success. The current version by Beverley Cross provides a grand opportunity for Nicholas Hytner's company to revive the conventions of Edwardian playing, with the ham positively squealing on the bone That the evening is neither gripping nor significantly amusing is a cause more for regret than for disappointment. Donald Sinden is admirably cast as the play-acting gentleman of honour whose exploits have to be hidden from his thespian French wife and he evinces all the charm of a frisky butler with a Dickie Davies blaze in his wig and scarlet heels on his court pumps." The Times

"The director, Nicholas Hytner, brings to this Edwardian tat the same brand of pictorial guile he has shown in his opera house productions. From the moment when the guillotine slides down in a swirl of smoke, you feel you are in safe hands. Hytner combines high visual style with the right degree of tongue-in-cheek... The story is so thin, the dialogue so arch, that the evening's pleasures derive from manner rather than matter. Though possibly a couple of years too old for the 29-year-old Sir Percy Blakeney, Donald Sinden plays him with gentleman's relish. It is quite funny to see him fairy-footing across the bowling-green in his MCC-coloured coat. But Sinden actually makes you believe in the moral imperatives behind the quizzical foppishness." The Guardian

"Forget the novel, forget the film, forget Baroness Orczy even, who may well be looking down from Heaven with some indignation. This adaptation by Beverley Cross, directed by Nicholas Hytner, has borrowed the characters and the basic tale of heroics among the condemned aristos in revolutionary Paris, and made of them a farce as improbable in story as a piece by Feydeau, and indeed less realistic in character detail than that scrupulous adherent to the rules of farce would ever have done... What the story has become is a hilarious sequence of comic incidents, built around two superb comic performances, Donald Sinden's Sir Percy Blakeney and Charles Kay`s Chauvelin." The Financial Times

The Scarlet Pimpernel in London at Her Majesty's Theatre previewed from 5 December 1985, opened on 11 December 1985 and closed on 12 April 1986.