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Herge’s Adventures of Tintin

Published Thursday 13 December 2007 at 14:10 by Nick Smurthwaite

The first 30 minutes of this already acclaimed adaptation of the Herge strip cartoon is as dazzling a piece of physical theatre as you will find anywhere in London.

We are hurled headlong into the crazy, colourful world of Tintin in a kaleidoscopic frenzy of images and sounds involving the likes of Captain Haddock, Snowy the dog, the Thompson Twins, Bianca Castafiore, Professor Calculus, et al.

Clearly this is intended to be a crash course in Tintinology for those uninitiated members of the audience, and a refresher course for those who haven’t picked up a Tintin book in a long while.

In any event it is all gloriously witty and entertaining, a fluffy prelude to the darker tale, based on Tintin in Tibet, that is about to unfold.

Of all Herge’s 23 comic books, Tintin in Tibet was perhaps the one with the greatest emotional charge. Echoing a real-life relationship between Herge and a Chinese art student, it tells of a superhuman act of loyalty and friendship.

On hearing that his good friend Chang has been in a fatal plane crash in the Himalayas, Tintin refuses to believe he is dead and launches an almost certainly suicidal, and seemingly pointless, expedition in Tibet to rescue Chang, helped by the loyal but curmudgeonly Captain Haddock.

When they do eventually locate Chang he is holed up with the Yeti, who turns out to be a lot less scary than his 8ft, snarling, hairy appearance would suggest, more Chewbacca than King Kong.

How, you may ask, can you represent a Himalayan rescue mission on a standard-sized West End stage? Only director Rufus Norris and designer Ian MacNeil know the answer to that one, and they have done a masterly job of bringing Herge’s exquisite illustrations to life.

Some hilarious comic turns in the early part of the evening give way to more committed and thoughtful performances from Stephen Finegold as the blustering Haddock, Miltos Yerolemou as a convincingly canine Snowy, and Matthew Parish as our wide-eyed but determinedly intrepid boy hero.

Blistering barnacles, the Playhouse has a hit on its hands!

Production information

Playhouse, London, December 6-January 12

Herge, adapted by David Grieg and Rufus Norris
Rufus Norris
Cast includes:
Matthew Parish, Miltos Yerolemou, Stephen Finegold
Running time:
2hrs 10mins

Production information displayed was believed correct at time of review. Information may change over the run of the show.

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Run sheet

Old Vic, Studio Bristol
November 27 2013-January 4 2014