THE Original Theatre Company and York Theatre Royal unite for a co-production of Sarah Waters' number one best seller The Night Watch.

Adapted for the stage by Ivan And The Dogs writer Hattie Naylor, the play will run in York from Wednesday to Saturday before touring until November.

Set in London in the 1940s, the story follows the lives and loves of four ordinary people recovering from the chaos of war in a tender, tragic and poignant portrait of those caught up in the aftermath of an extraordinary time.

Previous Original Theatre Company productions to play the York Theatre Royal stage include Sebastian Faulks's Birdsong, Alan Bennett's The Habit Of Art and Oscar Wilde's The Importance Of Being Earnest.

Now, Alastair Whatley directs Olivier Award nominee Hattie Naylor's theatrically inventive adaptation with a design by David Woodhead, music by Sophie Cotton and a cast featuring 2019 RADA graduate Mara Allen in her debut tour, Louise Coulthard, Malcom James, Lewis Mackinnon, Phoebe Pryce, Florence Roberts, Sam Jenkins-Shaw and Izabella Urbanowicz. Pryce was last seen at the Theatre Royal in The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall in April 2017.

Hattie's adaptation was premiered at the Royal Exchange in Manchester in 2016 but she is delighted to be involved in a new production with Yorkshire connections, courtesy of York Theatre Royal's role as co-producers.

"Half of my family is from Yorkshire, Naylor being a Yorkshire name," she says. "My father is from a Keighley family.

"I also teach script writing for stage and screen at Sheffield Hallam University in the Humanities department."

The new production came about from Original Theatre Company director Alastair Whatley seeing the Manchester premiere, a production that the Observer theatre critic Susannah Clapp named in her top 10 of the year.

"The Royal Exchange gave Sarah [Waters] an array of writers to choose from, and she chose me after she was shown my Olivier-nominated play Ivan And The Dogs," recalls Hattie

"I'd also done an adaptation of Alice Through The Looking Glass that's true to the spirit of Lewis Carroll, which I did for BBC Radio 4 and for The Tobacco Factory in Bristol and The Egg at the Theatre Royal Bath."

Waters was "really hands off", letting Naylor crack on with her adaptation. "I met her well down the line," Sarah says. "She would turn up very occasionally at rehearsals, always to say something that we'd not really seen, but you got the impression she was really pleased with the adaptation, though maybe she'd point out if we'd overlooked or slightly misinterpreted a detail."

Waters attended a Manchester dress rehearsal. "Afterwards I said, 'it must be so strange to see what you've written being adapted to being so short', but she said, 'oh no, I now wonder why it was ever so long'." says Hattie.

Waters was able to 'let go' of her work, partly because she was working on the next novel at the time. Likewise, Hattie is pleased to be working with Alastair Whatley for the first time for the 2019 touring production. "It's good to let a new director make new decisions," she says.

In writing an adaptation, Naylor had to achieve a balancing act of "not letting people down" while also creating a work for the stage in its own right. "That's even more the case if you're adapting Homer's The Iliad or The Odyssey, where even more people have read the book," she says.

"I feel you have a responsibility to those readers [500,000 people have bought The Night Watch], so I concentrate on what makes it a classic, reading around the subject and reading about the author.

"In this instance, Sarah and I grew up in the same era and in the same culture, and we're from the same lower middle class/working class background, so I approach her story from the same demographic."

Hattie continues: "The joy of adapting a work by a living author is that it's much more exciting, especially if you have a similar perspective and grew up in a similar place and are of a similar age.

"I don't know if it's true, but I have a feeling that a lot of adaptors are women, and that's something to do with not needing to be top dog, like a librettist's job being to serve the composer.

"Particularly with the classics, you have to embrace what the writer wants to say and you must take time to understand what the writer wants, rather than being concerned with your style."

Hattie is dyslexic. "That makes language difficult to grasp and even now I have to apply myself to language to understand it and formulate the next sentence," she says. "I've learned to communicate much faster by working in box office, and I've also learnt not to think in a linear way, but at a tangent, so that I understand words from a different angle. That's a huge advantage as a writer or artist because you see the world from a different perspective and you accept you're out of kilter with others in the world.

"If there's one thing that runs through my original work, it's to do with outsiders; people who are not part of society."

The Original Theatre Company and York Theatre Royal present The Night Watch, York Theatre Royal, Wednesday to Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2pm, Thursday and 2.30pm, Saturday; post-show discussion on Wednesday. Box office: 01904 623568 or at

Charles Hutchinson