An adaptation of Hanya Yanagihara’s bestselling novel A Little Life is to open in London’s West End. Ivo van Hove will direct a cast including James Norton in the production at the Harold Pinter theatre which runs from 25 March to 18 June.
It is the first English-language production of the novel, which has been adapted by Van Hove and Yanagihara with Koen Tachelet. At this year’s Edinburgh international festival, Van Hove directed a version in Dutch with his Internationaal Theater Amsterdam ensemble that ran for more than four hours. The Guardian’s Mark Fisher called it “mesmerising” and “not a show for the faint-hearted”.
The book is an exploration of trauma, survival and love. It depicts the lifelong impact of child abuse on its central character, a lawyer named Jude, who will be played by Happy Valley and Grantchester star Norton. Omari Douglas, Luke Thompson and Zach Wyatt will portray Jude’s university friends. Yanagihara described it as “the most extraordinary cast I could have hoped for” and Van Hove said he was looking forward to “beginning rehearsals with this extraordinary and committed group of actors to reveal the work afresh for audiences from across the UK”.
The prolific Belgian director’s London shows have included an adaptation of the film All About Eve, a version of Jean Cocteau’s The Human Voice and an epic take on Greek tragedy, Age of Rage. Earlier this year he told the Guardian that Yanagihara’s book explored how “love cannot solve everything”. He described the book as “a rollercoaster of emotions: it’s heartbreaking, hard, emotional, sweet, tender, about friendship and sexuality and its importance in your life. It’s a masterpiece and I’m blessed that I’m the only one in the world who got the rights.”
The production previews at Richmond theatre from 14 to 18 March before moving into the West End.