The Playing With Books strand at the Edinburgh International Book Festival takes a selection of interesting novels and gives them a theatrical make over. The One Hundred Nights of Hero by writer and illustrator Isabel Greenberg is a graphic novel that takes place in a unique fantasy world. The author explored this world in her previous novel The Encyclopaedia of Early Earth, but her latest comic delves deeper into the mythology of this interesting and magical place. Here folk tales and myths are presented in a fantastic and beautiful illustrative style. The task of bringing this magnificent fantasy world to life has been undertaken by The Royal Lyceum Theatre and director Ella Hickson.
The event is chaired and introduced by Lyceum Creative Director David Greig. The performance itself is part behind the scenes making of and part dramatisation. We learn about the creative process and view how the director and graphic novelist collaborated with musician Emmy The Great. This process is presented as short videos, which then make way for the performers Kim Allen, Christina Gordon and Jatinder Singh Randhawa to bring The One Hundred Nights of Hero to life. The show is influenced by folk music and tells the tale of two female protagonists Hero and Cherry. Same sex relationships are forbidden and they strive to survive in a patriarchal and imposing world. It is a love conquers all story with an array of intriguing characters and plot twists galore.
After the performance there is a short question and answer session with the cast and Isabel Greenberg. Here Isabel states that when creating the book “I wanted the freedom to invent my own world” and this freedom is evident in the fantastical nature of the story. Director Ella Hickson discusses the musical aspect of the show and would envision further development of the work as either a full musical piece, or possibly even a play with songs. Emmy The Great’s music lends itself to the musical theatre format and could easily be expanded for a bigger and more complete production.
David Greig mentions that he hopes the stage version of The One Hundred Nights of Hero will go on to further success. The talented and vibrant cast highlight that they only had a day and a half of rehearsals and were just scratching the surface of such a brilliant and visually exciting graphic novel.