Calling all cinema fans and theatre lovers – an upcoming stage adaptation is set to bring the two worlds together with a first-of-its-kind show. For the first time ever, a film by Stanley Kubrick is set to receive the stage treatment. His cult Cold War satire, Dr. Strangelove, is being co-adapted for the West End by legends of screen and stage, BAFTA and Emmy Award winner Armando Iannucci and Olivier Award winner Sean Foley. And it’s set to hit the stage next year.
The iconic director, Stanley Kubrick, has long used other source materials for his own works. Some of his most famous pieces have found him adapting popular novels and short stories (Lolita, The Shining, A Clockwork Orange etc.) into critically revered films. It was, surely, only a matter of time before his own works got adapted themselves.
And if you’re worried about whether the famously particular director would have approved of the adaptation, a number of voices have already weighed in. Among them, is Christiane Kubrick, Stanley’s widow, who said:
We have always been reluctant to let anyone adapt any of Stanley’s work, and we never have. It was so important to him that it wasn’t changed from how he finished it. But we could not resist authorising this project: the time is right; the people doing it are fantastic; and Strangelove should be brought to a new and younger audience. I am sure Stanley would have approved it too.
The film, whose full title is Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, follows the story of a “rogue U.S. General who triggers a nuclear crisis”. The film famously starred Peter Sellers playing three wholly different roles. While details are thin on the ground for now, we can expect the story to remain the same when it hits the West End.
Said Jan Harlan, Stanley’s long-time producer:
Dr. Strangelove was initially conceived as a serious film based on the novel “Red Alert” by Peter George. During the adaptation Stanley ran into a wall: It was impossible to make a successful film about the end of mankind since nobody, himself included, would want to see it. The answer was satire. Laughing is one of our go-to responses when faced with an inescapable reality. As the film charts our short path to total self-destruction, we must make fun of it and ‘all will be well’.
While it may sound rather absurd that a Cold War satire (and in turn a play) about the absolute destruction of all of mankind might be funny, it is in fact highly regarded as one of the greatest comedies of all time. Rotten Tomatoes included it on their list of 150 Essential Comedy Movies To Watch Now, and EMPIRE placed it at 11th position on their The 50 Best Comedy Movies list.
The stage adaptation of Dr. Strangelove is expected to hit the West End in the autumn of 2024.
Head to the production’s website to keep up to date with the latest news and to be the first in line to grab tickets.