So. Still thinking about adaptations and the inner life of a book. Inevitably, I turn to the recent Hobbit films, with a pained look on my face. (I have to admit at this point that I have not seen Ep III Everybody fighting Everybody, but there is enough material in the first two to make my point.) What is the problem with the Hobbit films? They have been given the inner spirit of The Lord of the Rings. That’s all there is to it.
I had this roiling round my head as I was out on the bike this morning, and began to think how I would go about adapting the Hobbit for the stage. (What follows is probably very obvious, but, hey, I worked it out for myself.) The heart of the Hobbit is a told story. It is a fireside tale – in the best sense – masquerading in a book. A good adaptation would have to capture and convey that toldness. Preferably with a cast of seven, maybe eight.
But how do we get thirteen dwarves on stage with only seven actors? Hats I tell you. There are only two dwarf characters, Thorin and Balin (Bombur is not a character, merely a burden). Why clutter up the stage with unnecessary dwarves? No, hats will do nicely. No need for special effects, or grotesque make-up. We want a fire, a storyteller and a group of listeners who become part of the story as they listen.
That, I would go and see (and I wouldn’t mind a chance to write it).