Six must-see page to stage adaptations

Posted on 24 October 2023

As the nights grow longer, nothing beats curling up on the sofa with a cup of tea and a well-loved book! However, finding two uninterrupted hours to read is hard in our busy lives, and all we want is to share the experience with others.

This is where stage adaptations work their magic. They allow us to dive deep into these rich, fantastical stories with the ones we love. In the theatre, there are no distractions, no guilt, and no limits on how many stories you can enjoy in a month (we're looking at you, Audible).

1. The Ocean at the End of the Lane

After a hugely successful UK tour, Neil Gaiman’s touching tale of childhood, magic, and memory has returned to the West End with a splash! The fantasy author, known for his deeply human take on the fantasy genre, explores grief, friendship, and anxiety in this emotional story. Lettie Hempstock possesses a deep knowledge of the supernatural and otherworldly.

She soon grows close to Boy, a troubled child who is navigating his way through a changing family home. As their friendship grows, the boy soon becomes entangled in a series of fantastical but perilous adventures. With Lettie's guidance, he must confront the malevolent forces that have been awakened alone, but can the once shy and reserved boy tackle the frightening challenges head-on?

2. Mrs. Doubtfire

Mrs. Doubtfire knows a thing or two about transformations, but did you know that her story started long before the 1993 film? Everybody’s favourite hip-old granny first came to life in Anne Fine’s 1987 book Alias Madame Doubtfire. The novel, set in London, follows Daniel, a recently divorced father, who disguises himself as a French nanny to spend more time with his children. 

In a desperate attempt to see his children, Daniel utilises his talents for impressions and takes on the role of a lifetime. With the help of his brother Frank, Daniel transforms himself into an elderly lady and secures the position of nanny to his three children. As he gets lost in his new character, he becomes closer to his kids and learns more about parenting than he ever did as their dad. But with countless close calls and panicked quick changes, how long will his charade last before he is exposed?

3. The Time Traveller’s Wife

Based on Audrey Niffenegger's devastating 2003 novel, The Time Traveller's Wife The Musical is an unconventional love story that blends science fiction and romance.

The musical follows Henry, a man whose genetic disorder forces him to spontaneously travel through time, and Clare, his wife, who is left to experience their relationship linearly. The emotional production follows the pair as they meet, fall in love, and get married, though not in that order. Caught in a relationship that appears doomed by Henry’s extraordinary disorder, the pair search for a cure.

Focusing on the emotional impact of time travel on relationships rather than the science behind it, the gut-wrenching musical explores the themes of love, loss, and the enduring nature of relationships in extraordinary circumstances. Will the couple see their happily ever after, or will the hands of time force them apart?  

4. Hamnet

Maggie O'Farrell's poignant tale was the standout book of 2020, having won the Women's Prize for Fiction, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Waterstones Book of the Year.

Hamnet explores one of Shakespeare’s most powerful tragedies: the death of his son. When the plague claims the life of their youngest child, Agnes and William’s lives are torn apart. Seeking comfort, they each fall into their own sorrow; they absorb themselves in their own emotions. No longer the author of his own story, William must navigate a future he could never have scripted. A universal story about family dynamics and the necessary reinvention needed to overcome and make peace with pain, Hamnet is a lyrical and moving story, set in 16th-century Warwickshire.

5. The Little Big Things

Adapted from Henry Fraser’s Sunday Times best-selling autobiography of the same name, The Little Big Things is an uplifting new British musical. Torn between a past he can no longer recognise, and a future he could never have anticipated, can Henry overcome his biggest hurdle and find joy in the little things once more?

After a single moment tore his world apart, Henry, a former Saracens Academy member, is forced to the sidelines. Newly paralysed from the shoulders down, the teenager must navigate a new path for himself while dodging the obstacles that may lie across it. This joyous new musical is an inspirational tale of embracing life through adversity and the transformative power that family and friendships can have if you only open yourself up to them. As Henry says, ‘Being challenged in life is inevitable, but being defeated is optional...’.

6. Matilda

Matilda was recently crowned Roald Dahl’s Most Marvellous Book, and it’s clear to see why. Full of mischief and magic, Matilda utilises her inner strength, courage, and intelligence to thwart the malicious and spiteful adults that control her life, both in and out of school.

Matilda’s parents are glued to the television day in and day out, ignorant and unaware of their daughter's extraordinary talents. At Matilda’s request, she is finally enrolled in school, a place she has heard is surrounded by books and like-minded kids, keen to learn and explore. However, what she encounters when she reaches Crunchem Hall is far scarier than any horror she has read at the library.

The school is governed by the infamous hammer throwing champion Trunchbull, who believes that children are truly revolting and that Matilda is a ‘nasty little troublemaking goblin’. Little does she know that Matilda only makes trouble for those who deserve it, and the so-called ‘revolting’ children are about to start a revolution!