Sunday, May 01, 2005

The Day of the Triffids

Not the famous novel by John Wyndham, nor (thankfully) the awful film, not even a repeat of the workmanlike BBC TV adaptation from the early 1980s.

No, this was a brave attempt at a play put on at the Wolsey theatre in Ipswich. Friend and ex-colleague Steve kindly organised the tickets and a group of us went along.

It's a great story I'd not really thought about for many years, although 28 Days Later, Night of the Comet, and doubtless many other "end of the world" sci-fi borrows from it. Bravely, the producers had decided to keep it set in the 1950s, which suits the stiff-upper lip English dialogue lifted straight from the book. What was striking was how morally tough, even ruthless, our heros are. Despite being a love story, there's precious little touchy-feely stuff going on here.

John Wyndham, like so many of his generation, had boyhood memories of World War 1, and saw action in World War 2. These experiences must have hardened a pretty rigid and outwardly unemotional society - at least, that's how the characters in Day of the Triffids appear. You get the impression that Bill, the main character, has already seen at least one city completely destroyed, and seeing the end of London is some sense more of the same.

As for the Triffids, well they provide the snag that's so important to all end of the world stories. Without dangerous monster plants, or zombies, or aliens to bugger things up it's just too utopian to imagine yourself amongst a handful of people with an entire country to plunder. Imagine the house you'd carefully select, not to mention your car collection, and works of art "liberated" from major museums and galleries...

Anyway, the play was great fun and will hopefully be put on again somewhere else (London perhaps?) soon. If so, go and see it. Posted by Hello


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