'Thundering thyphoons' - Tintin turns stage hero in London
By Anna Tomforde Dec 18, 2005, 7:38 GMT
London - 'Blistering barnacles!' - Tintin, accompanied by a real, canine Snowy, the boy reporter's faithful dog, is on stage in London - and proving to be a runaway success.
The decision by the Young Vic, one of London's leading theatres, to adapt 'Tintin in Tibet' to the stage for its Christmas play was daring, as nothing like it had ever been done before.
But judging by the response of fans and critics alike - the stage version of one of Tintin's best-loved adventures is by no means a poor substitute for the original book.
'Tintin pulls it off in Tibet', judged the Daily Telegraph, while the Independent called it a 'Yuletide hit'.
Tintin's heart-rending search for Chang, his Chinese friend lost after a plane crash high up in the Himalayan mountains, 'touches marvellously on deepest human instincts', wrote the Financial Times.
To many, it brought back the 'wonder' of Tintin's creator, the Belgian artist Georges Remi, also known as Hergé, added the paper.
In their production, Young Vic director Rufus Norris and his co-adaptor, David Greig, captivate viewers with stage designs that conjure up the grandeur of the Himalayan scenery, the surging crowds of Kathmandu, the desolate remains of an air-crash and the serenity of Tibetan monks.
The many tricks and fine stage effects include a thrilling airborne mountaineering sequence, a truly scary plane wreck and a fabulously hairy Yeti whose desparate howls penetrate the theatre.
In a clever solution, Snowy, Tintin's faithful and sometimes tipsy dog, transmutes surprisingly convincingly from a four-legged West Highland terrier into budding star actor Simon Trinder.
As Tintin, 23-year-old London actor Russell Tovey brings a touch of grief and melancholy to his stubborn - and successful - search for Chang who he refuses to believe is dead.
Captain Haddock has a ball, ceaselessly hurling insults and bemoaning the loss of his beloved whisky, while also showing himself to be Tintin's true and loyal friend.
'Tintin in Tibet' was Hergé's most personal adventure based on his close friendship with Chang Chong-chen, a Chinese art student introduced to the Belgian artist in Brussels in 1934, says Michael Farr, author of the best-selling 'Tintin.The Complete Companion.'
After losing contact with Chang for decades following his return to China, Hergé finally tracked him down in 1975 - and the two men met again in Brussels in 1981 - two years before Herge's death from cancer.
According to Farr, Hergé himself described 'Tintin in Tibet' as 'a song dedicated to friendship.'
The adventure, says Farr, allowed Hergé 'to indulge in personal interests that fascinated him - the question of extra-sensory perception and the mysticism of Tibetan Buddhism.'