I’ve been sent tickets for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Blake’s 7 (Ages of Man). It’s not the first time sci-fi has tackled Shakespeare of course. Most famously the classic Forbidden Planet is taken almost entirely from his last play The Tempest, wherein Prospero opens a comic shop in Denmark Street (remade in '91 as Propero's Comics). But now and the favour is being returned, for it is Blake’s 7 that is being taken and given the RSC treatment this summer.
Villa: Paul Darrow, a shot! Of his hand a ruin thou hast made!
Paul Darrow: Alas, t’was his head for which I aimed!
The cast is impressive, with the role of Sir Roger Blake taken by Sir Ian McKellen, Queen Servalina - Dame Judi Dench, with (and most excitingly for fans) Paul Darrow reprising his role of Paul Darrow from the original.
Gan: Where then are these goodly men?
Villa: I think thou look’st at them!
Paul Darrow: Alas!
A long production at eight hours, the interval between Acts III and IV sees Blake vanish entirely. Indeed this foreshadows the final moments when tricked by typical Shakespearian bluff, lies and a certain amount of cross-dressing Dame Paul Darrow executes Blake. The Queen’s Beefeaters arrive, the crew are gunned down and in a moment of true drama the curtain falls on Paul Darrow as stepping over the assassinated Blake he raises his pistol to face them, probably smirking. The lights are snuffed. A shot rings out.
Blake’s 7 (Ages of Man) is set to run from June 7th to August 21st, at the Paul Darrow Theatre, Paul Darrow-On-Avon.
Pictured: Paul Darrow