My Brilliant Friend – A Rose Theatre Kingston production
A two-part adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan quartet of novels.
Adapted for the stage by April De Angelis
Directed by Melly Still
Sat 25 February – Sun 2 April
Press night: Saturday 11 March
Elena Ferrante’s intense portrait of an all-consuming female friendship in post-war Italy is brought to life for the first time on the Rose stage.
This modern family saga chronicles the lives of friends, Elena and Lila, following them from their childhoods in a poor, tough neighbourhood of Naples, through passionate love affairs, burgeoning careers and family struggles. But even as life repeatedly tries to pull the two in separate directions, Elena and Lila remain inextricably bound to one another.
A powerful story of love, violence, sex, ambition, genius and self-destruction, the two-part play is an exploration not just of female friendship and rivalry, but of Italy after the war and the decades of political turmoil and cultural change that followed.
This stage adaptation condenses Ferrante’s four novels (My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, The Story of the Lost Child) into one play presented in two parts. Audiences will be able to see both parts in one day, or on separate days.
Elena Ferrante was chosen this year as one of Time Magazine‘s 100 most influential people on the planet. Very little, however, is known about the author – she writes under a pseudonym, explaining: ‘Anonymity lets me concentrate exclusively on writing’. Her first novels were published in the early 1990s, with My Brilliant Friend, the first novel in the Neapolitan quartet, translated into English in 2012, and the final book in the quartet, The Story of the Lost Child, shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize.
April De Angelis is an acclaimed writer whose extensive theatre work includes After Electra, Rune, Gastronauts, Jumpy, an adaptation of Wuthering Heights, A Laughing Matter, A Warwickshire Testimony, The Positive Hour, Playhouse Creatures and The Life and Times of Fanny Hill. She’s currently under commission to the Royal Exchange, Manchester and the National Theatre. De Angelis has also written the libretto for Flight, music by Jonathan Dove, for Glyndebourne Opera and The Silent Twins libretto, which was set to music by Errollyn Wallen. Her work for radio includes an adaptation of Life in the Tomb, a serialisation of Peyton Place, Visitants and The Outlander which won the Writer’s Guild Award in 1992. For television her work includes Aristophanes.
Melly Still’s previous directing credits for theatre include Cymbeline (RSC), The Haunting of Hill House (Sonia Friedman Productions, Hammer and Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse), Life Raft and Coram Boy (Bristol Old Vic), From Morning Till Midnight, Nation and The Revenger’s Tragedy (National Theatre), Rats’ Tales (Manchester Royal Exchange) and Beasts and Beauties (Hampstead Theatre). Her opera directing work includes The Cunning Little Vixen and Rusalka (Glyndebourne) and Zaide (Sadler’s Wells).