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The Knowledge, a mid-season interview with Vaughan Williams

13 Oct 2017

 

The Knowledge reaches the halfway point of its run at London's Charing Cross Theatre and like so many others, we were bowled over by this show and our review of the opening said:

Will "The Knowledge" appeal to a wider audience outside of the taxi trade? The answer is a resounding yes. There is something for everybody in this adaptation of Jack Rosenthals masterpiece. Superb acting, wonderful direction, an excellent script - this show ticks all the boxes!

With its limited ten-week run now half over, we took the opportunity for a brief Q&A with the show's co-producer Vaughan Williams 

Vaughan, did you expect the show to be such a success with critics and audiences alike?

Theatre producers are an optimistic lot, you couldn't do the job otherwise. It took an unusually long four years to bring this show to the stage. Obviously we had huge confidence in Jack a Rosenthal's writing, but I suppose it was only after we had received Simon Block's superb adaptation script and Maureen had agreed to direct the show that my business partner, Steven Levy, and I sat back and nervously whispered : " I think we've got something very special here " . But you can always be wrong .... so we were delighted when many of the critics, and especially so many of our audiences, were fulsome in their praise ! 

Why do think it was so well received?

Simon and Maureen have taken Jack's original, treated it with enormous respect, and together with our outstanding cast they have delivered that rare commodity - a hilarious comedy with real emotional power. I think the show does more than just entertain ( though I think it does that very well ) ... it leaves a lasting impact on its audiences. 

And it resonates particularly with cab drivers and their families?

Absolutely. I think it's a very different experience for them. For the usual theatre audiences, we set out partly to explain exactly what The Knowledge is and how challenging it is to pass. For the cabbies, they know all that, but the show opens up a secret world and the cabbies' legendary memories do the rest for us. You can't overstate the importance of families and the support they give, which is a major theme of the show. The number of people who have told me that they both laughed and cried during the evening is amazing ! 

The show is clearly very popular. Will it be extended?

We wish we could, but sadly not. Our next show, which will be the first revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber's " The Woman in White ", has been cast and rehearsals start next week. That will follow on immediately after "The Knowledge" closes, so we have no flexibility there and there are no suitable theatres available for an immediate transfer. We are starting discussions about a possible future U.K. tour, but it's early days. The show will close on November 11th as scheduled. 

So tickets may become scarce?

We still have tickets available, especially early and mid-week. I'm a bit concerned that some cabbies and their families might miss the show by leaving booking too late. Popular shows often sell out completely for their last couple of weeks, so don't delay cabbies, book today! 

So it's on to the next show for you?

"The Knowledge" has been the show that I have lived and breathed the most in my relatively short (six years) producing career. I've always been a huge black cab fan, but there was something about the timing of this show. We've been developing it during a period of huge challenges for the cab trade and I suppose, in my own small way, I've got emotionally involved and tried my best to lend a hand. I think Maureen did a tremendous job in publicising not only the show, but the cab trade itself, in the media, and I hope that helped. But I'm not going anywhere ... I'll still do anything I can to support London's Finest for as long as I can be of use .... and I'm a wily old chap !

Thank you Vaughan 

Thanks for having me, and thanks to all the cabbies who have helped and supported us. We couldn't have done it without them. 

 

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