Haroun and the Sea of Stories
Enthusiastic but amateurish adaptation of Rushdie’s novel
This article is from 2011.
Top marks for the ambition displayed by the Mid-Pacific Institute School of the Arts in choosing to adapt Salman Rushdie’s allegorical bedtime story. Written while the author’s life was under threat in the wake of the publication of The Satanic Verses, the story was intended as a birthday gift for Rushdie’s son Zafar. It tells the tale of a young boy who must save the inhabitants of a fantastical story-telling race (the Guptas) from extinction by their mortal enemies who favour silence (the Chupwallahs).
The company have chosen to keep Rushdie’s playful and visceral prose intact, which is both a blessing and a curse – the words have a magical quality, but leave some characters with quite a lot to say without taking a breath, rendering some lines hurried and unintelligible. The play is also in need of some judicious editing – too much of the novel is crammed into their 90 minutes on stage, with the introduction of some less important characters taking up a disproportionate amount of time.
The cast’s enthusiasm does carry the play for quite some time, but in the end, it collapses under the weight of faithfulness to the source material.