What if Napoleon didn’t die in exile? What if he swapped identities with a lowly sailor and made it back to Paris? What then?
Kathryn Hunter directs Told by an Idiot co-founder and artistic director, Paul Hunter, and Ayesha Antoine in Napoleon Disrobed, a playful meditation on the significance of power.
Based on Simon Leys’ acclaimed novella, The Death of Napoleon, the production will open at Theatre Royal Plymouth before a run at London’s Arcola Theatre and will then travel to Birmingham and Scarborough.
This follows Kathryn and Paul’s hugely successful collaboration on the Told by an Idiot international smash-hit My Perfect Mind.
Napoleon Disrobed is a wry re-imagining of the final years of Napoleon Bonaparte and examines how legend can often be stronger than reality.
Using the company’s trademark comic physicality, Napoleon Disrobed looks at the absurdity of trying to retrieve time and glory and dissects the notion of what it is to lose power but gain personal freedom in the transition from one identity to another.
Director Kathryn Hunter said: “When Paul gave me Simon Leys novella, The Death of Napoleon, to read I was immediately caught by the author’s wit and playfulness.
“The story is not a serious historical proposition but a pretext to ask questions about how we live and what we regard as important in our lives.
“I am so excited to be creating this adaptation with Paul and Ayesha. Paul is pure comic genius, whose seemingly infinite invention often leaves me speechless in rehearsal.
“Ayesha is a performer of huge depth, strength and versatility. Together they will make a formidable pair and take us on an unforgettable journey’
The Drum, Theatre Royal Plymouth, January 25 – February 10 Arcola Theatre, London, February 14 – March 10 Birmingham Rep, March 15 – 17 Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, March 20 – 24.