belper players in buchan’s tale

Belper Players
Belper Players

One of the 20th century’s most famous literary heroes, Richard Hannay, returns to the stage from November 12-16 courtesy of an original production by Belper Players.

Inspired by Patrick Barlow’s Olivier-award winning stage production of The 39 Steps, Jeff Moule has loosely adapted another John Buchan novel into the fast-moving parody, Caging The Wild Birds, which he’s directing for Belper Players at The Strutt Centre, Belper, in the main hall.

But the difference is Jeff has chosen to keep the story, based on the novel Mr Standfast, in its original setting, during WW1. And with the opening night just after Remembrance Day, there are poignant moments alongside comic scenes.

“Thanks to hindsight, the archives, and the great war poets such as Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, most people today think of trench warfare as an inept military strategy that wasted the lives of thousands in appalling conditions,” said Jeff Moule. “But it wasn’t until many years after that this became the accepted version. Immediately afterwards, novels like Buchan’s ‘shockers’ were immensely popular, vindicating the distinct values and social order of the traditional British way of life before the war.

“My free adaptation is partly a send up of those values, and partly a tribute to those who lost their lives, with touches of satire reminiscent of Oh What A Lovely War! and Blackadder Goes Forth.”

Like Oh What A Lovely War!, Caging The Wild Birds uses music, with the action framed by a band of Edwardian music hall singers performing traditional songs.

Performances start at 7.30pm. There is also a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm. Tickets cost £7, £5 for under 16s, and £22 for a family ticket. Concessions are available on the Tuesday only at £6. Contact Joyce Towle on 01335 370827 or see

n Pictured are Julian Woodcock and Keren Adler