Cult film Withnail And I will be brought to the stage in Birmingham

Cult film Withnail And I is being brought to the stage in Birmingham after being adapted for the theatre by its creator.

Bruce Robinson wrote and directed the 1987 tragi-comedy, which follows hapless actors battling alcoholism and poverty who decide to take a trip to the country to escape their cold and messy Camden flat in London.

Originally an adaption of an unpublished novel by Robinson, the story will again be re-done, this time for the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in May.

Organisers say this will be the “world premiere of the first ever stage adaption of the cult film classic”.

Directed by artistic director of Birmingham Rep, Sean Foley, the show will bring to life the posh Withnail and the more straight-laced narrator, referred to as I in the film and titled in the screenplay as Marwood.

Foley, whose productions of The Play What I Wrote and The Right Size In Do You Come Here Often? have won Olivier Awards, said: “Hilarious, tragic and wild, Withnail And I is a comedy like no other, and I’m thrilled to be working with the legendary Bruce Robinson to bring it to life on stage.

“In fact, where better for the extraordinarily funny tale of two unemployed actors who go on holiday, ‘by mistake’?

“Rightly regarded as one of the finest British film’s ever made, our world premiere stage version brings to life the classic dialogue, the insane situations, and above all the boozy, irresistibly hilarious relationship of one of the most famous slacker duos ever created.”

60th BFI London Film Festival – Mindhorn Screening
Sean Foley will direct the play (Ian West/PA)

The original production gave birth to the careers of Richard E Grant, who would later be nominated for an Oscar for 2018 crime biopic Can You Ever Forgive Me?, and Doctor Who: The Movie star Paul McGann.

It features Withnail (Grant) and Marwood (McGann), who have arguments over their housekeeping, and the only visitor to their flat, their drug dealer Danny (Ralph Brown).

They decide to travel to uncle Monty’s (Richard Griffiths) cottage near Penrith in Cumbria, where they encounter unfriendly locals.

During the visit Monty surprises the pair and attempts a romantic relationship with Marwood.

The movie has regularly featured on polls of great films, including a British Film Institute’s ranking of the top 100 British films, and has been applauded by critics.

Robinson, who has often said the story is inspired by him trying to make a living as an actor while living in London, received an Oscar nod for his screenplay for The Killing Fields in 1984.

He also went on to direct Hunter S Thompson adaption The Rum Diary, starring Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, in 2011 and to write 1998 drama Return To Paradise, featuring Joaquin Phoenix and Vince Vaughn.

Withnail And I will come to the Birmingham Rep from May 3 until May 25 2024.

Casting details will be announced in due course.