Films,  theatre

Withnail And I Is Still Wonderful

It is one of the most beloved films of the 1980’s, a cult movie with instantly quotable lines and a devoted fan base. Now, Wìthnail and I, the tale of two failing actors at the tail-end of the 1960’s who go on holiday ‘by mistake’, has been transformed into a brilliant piece of tragi-comedy theatre that delights fans both old and new. Once again, the Birmingham Rep has a monster hit on its hands.

Credit Manuel Harlan

Withnail and I (Marwood) are failing actors living in virtual destitution in 1969 London. Their lives are made up of signing on, drinking alcohol when they can get it, and lighter fluid when they can’t. Withnail is aristocratic and flamboyant, but is also an idle, penniless alcoholic, while ‘I’ strives to get the acting role that will lift him from this life. In the midst of all this chaos, the pair go on holiday, ‘by mistake’, to Penrith, to a cottage owned by Withnail’s Uncle Monty, an ageing gay man with designs on ‘I’. Much chaos and hilarity ensues.

Credit Manuel Harlan

The beauty of ‘Withnail and I’ is the familiarity – everything you love from the film is there, from the Camberwell Carrot to the ‘finest wines available to humanity’. The staging is impeccable, with scenes seamlessly moving from the dilapidated flat, to a London pub and Uncle Monty’s cottage. The driving scenes are particularly wonderful and funny, with that lovely Jaguar there in its full glory, whilst the tearoom scene, so beloved from the film, is recreated to hilarious effect.

Credit Manuel Harlan

The cast are superb, Robert Sheehan is a flamboyant, brilliant Withnail, oozing charisma and simply hilarious at times. He is well matched by Adonis Siddique as the thoughtful, gentle ‘I’ (Marwood), being driven to distraction by the craziness all around him. Malcolm Sinclair is very funny as randy Uncle Monty, whilst Adam Young is an absolute hoot as Danny, stealing every scene he is in.

Credit Manuel Harlan

The soundtrack is brilliant, and the fact that it is played by a live band is a brilliant touch that creates an incredible atmosphere in the theatre.

Withnail and I may be about going on holiday by mistake, but the real mistake would be to miss this incredible show, a new jewel in The Rep’s comedy crown.

Withnail and I is at the Birmingham Rep until May 25th.

Click here for ticket information


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