The scene is set: it’s 1831 and the naturalist Charles Darwin is invited to travel with Robert FitzRoy into unchartered waters off the coast of South America aboard The Beagle. So far, so factual. But for Millie, Ian and Tom, getting to grips with a 1998 stage version of events includes uncovering the polarities both in and between their own lives. The exploration of nineteenth-century philosophical tensions, with the staunch solidity of FitzRoy’s christian ideals sparring with Darwin’s slowly dawning radical vision, provokes unsuspected emotions in the present-day director and actors. How is it possible to look back and reach within oneself for meaning when belief has been replaced by a void? What place has personal commitment in a haphazard world? Timberlake Wertenbaker’s absorbing play slides a scalpel beneath the surface of emotions and beliefs and looks at how we live with one another in a society conditioned by evolution.
Faber & Faber Ltd.
Timberlake Wertenbaker’s plays include “New Anatomies” (ICA, London, 1982); “Abel’s Sister” (Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, 1984); “The Grace of Mary Traverse” (Royal Court), which won the Plays and Players Most Promising Playwright Award in 1985; “Our Country’s Good” (Royal Court and Broadway), winner of the Laurence Olivier Play of the Year Award in 1988 and the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best New Foreign Play in 1991; “The Love of the Nightingale” (RSC’s Other Place), which won the 1989 Eileen Anderson Central TV Drama Award; “Three Birds Alighting on a Field” (Royal Court), which won the Susan Smith Blackburn Award, Writers’ Guild Award and London Critics’ Circle Award in 1992; “The Break of Day” (Out of Joint production, Royal Court and tour, 1995); “After Darwin” (Hampstead Theatre, 1998); “The Ash Girl” (Birmingham Rep, 2000); “Credible Witness” (Royal Court, 2001); “Galileo’s Daughter” (Theatre Royal, Bath, 2004); “Arden City” (NT Connections, 2008); and “The Line” (Arcola Theatre, 2009).
She has written the screenplay of “The Children”, based on the novel by Edith Wharton, and a BBC2 film entitled “Do Not Disturb”.
Translations and adaptations include Marivaux’s “La Dispute”; Jean Anouilh’s “Leocadia”; Maurice Maeterlinck’s “Pelleas” and “Melisande” for BBC Radio; Ariane Mnouchkine’s “Mephisto”, adapted for the RSC in 1986; Sophocles’s “The Theban Plays” (RSC, 1991); Euripides’ “Hecuba” (ACT, San Francisco, 1995; BBC Radio 3, 2001) and “Hippolytus” (Riverside Studios, 2009); Eduardo de Filippo’s “Filumena” (Peter Hall Company at the Piccadilly Theatre, 1998); Pirandello’s “Come tu mi vuoi”; Gabriela Preissova’s “Jenufa” (Arcola Theatre, 2008); and Racine’s “Brittanicus” (Wilton’s Music Hall, 2011).