The cast has today been announced for the European première of Darwin drama The Wider Earth, which begins its run at the Natural History Museum in October. This will be the first time a theatre has been constructed within the museum and is going to be found in the Jerwood Gallery, near the Darwin Centre – this working scientific lab contains a whole host of zoological specimens, even some that were gathered by Darwin during his voyage on HMS Beagle.
Fittingly, for this puppet-heavy show, War Horse alumni Ian Houghton, Andrew Bridgmont and Matt Tait will feature, alongside Bradley Foster (recently seen in Common at the National Theatre) as a young Charles Darwin. They are joined by Jack Parry-Jones (Moon Dogs), Marcello Cruz (Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare’s Globe), Melissa Vaughan (Night Must Fall, Salisbury Playhouse & tour), Rory Fairbairn (The Importance of Being Earnest, Immersion Theatre) and Kim Scopes (A Christmas Carol, Noël Coward Theatre).
“An array of incredible creatures”
Far from the familiar sight of a bearded old man, The Wider Earth sees Charles Darwin before his great works on evolution: 22 years old, as yet unmarried, and ready to see the world. He sets sail on the HMS Beagle on what ended up being a five-year voyage, surveying distant lands and collecting specimens to build up his own collection.
In order to show some of the vast array of creatures Darwin encountered during his voyage, 30 incredible handmade puppets have been crafted. It’s taken the past two years to create them (following field observations and analysis of anatomical drawings), with staff at the Darwin Centre providing the designers with assistance – they have now been modified and finalised, ready for this new run of the show. Audiences will see the likes of Galàpagos finches alongside giant tortoises and a fossilised glyptodon, amongst many other strange & exotic creatures.
“What makes this work special is its unique approach to storytelling, casting talented actors to play famous historical figures, who bring to life an array of incredible creatures through masterful puppetry.” say Dead Puppet Society’s Nicholas Paine and David Morton. “We’re thrilled to be working with our original Australian creative team of composers and designers to stage The Wider Earth in such an incredible building.”
This is set to be a unique event that will thrill theatre lovers and science fans alike.
The Wider Earth runs at the Jerwood Gallery (Natural History Museum) from 2 October-30 December 2018. Tickets are available online or over the phone (0844 815 7141). Natural History Museum members are eligible for a 10% discount.