THE cast of The Watermill’s forthcoming production of Newbury-born Richard Adams’ Watership Down recently visited Sandham Memorial Chapel during a break in rehearsals. Sir Stanley Spencer’s iconic murals in the Burghclere chapel include the Resurrection, the chapel’s centrepiece, which sits behind the altar. Although setin Salonika, in the top left-hand corner Spencer has depicted Watership Down. This is significant, because as visitors leave the chapel and look to the countryside in front of them, they see the glowing Watership Down.
The visit by the actors formed part of their research into the countryside that inspired Adams’ classic tale and they went on from the chapel to explore the rural spots that feature in the bestselling novel.Adam’s stirring tale of courage and survival against the odds has become one of the best-loved adventures of all time, enjoyed by all ages. Adams invented the story to entertain his daughters on long car journeys and they begged him to write it down. Thirty-four years on and the story remains just as thrilling.
It is partly a love letter to the local countryside, which makes its staging in the atmospheric, warren-like surroundings of the rural Watermill even more appropriate.Watership Down runs at the Bagnor theatre from June 16 to July 23.
The multi-talented cast includes award-winning actor Edward Bennett, well-known for his roles at the RSC, including Hamlet (where he stepped into the breach for David Tennant) and Benedick and Berowne in the recent Love’s Labour’s Lost and Won which transferred to the West End this year. James Backway, Jess Murphy and Scarlet Wilderink have appeared in the hit stage production of War Horse.
Award-winning playwright Rona Munro’s adaptation of the long and perilous journey of a small band of rabbits in search of a safe home is exciting, funny and ultimately moving. Director Adam Penford says: “We’ve assembled a multi-talented cast and a vibrant team of theatre’s hottest creative talents in order to tell this epic adventure story. “We’re combining great acting, movement, music and puppetry... Think War Horse, but with rabbits!”
Watership Down is suitable for ages eight and over (parental guidance is advised).
Tickets can be booked online at watermill.org.uk
Take a sneak peak in the rehearsal room and hear the actors talk about the production at