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Interview: Sideways play to open in London in 2016

A play of Oscar-winning California wine film Sideways is heading to London in summer 2016.

Decanter.com speaks to Sideways author Rex Pickett about the theatre adaptation of his bestselling book and, relatedly, the Oscar-winning film.

Sideways The Play heads to West End

After a successful run in the US, the Sideways play by Rex Pickett is set to open at St James Theatre in London’s West End on the 26 May.

Pickett told Decanter.com that the play offers a new twist on the Oscar-winning film, released 11 years ago, with some additional scenes among the special features.

‘I am beyond thrilled about my play coming to London, it’s a dream come true’ he said. ‘I haven’t been to the UK in a while, but the Brits have a tradition of showing a great love of language; in theatre, literature and film.

The Sideways plot follows two middle-aged friends, Miles and Jack, on a week long trip through Napa Valley.

Originally a novel, Pickett was struggling to get publishers interested until director Alexander Payne picked it up as a screenplay. The film was later nominated for five Academy Awards, winning the Best Screenplay title.

Sideways has already been credited with increasing Pinot Noir sales, to the detriment of Merlot, in the US. ‘If anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving. I’m not drinking Merlot,’ Miles says in the film.

Pickett said he was originally sceptical about making Sideways into a theatre production.

‘I was doing a book signing five years ago almost to this day at a big festival called Pinot Days. Across the street was a small theatre called the Ruskin Group Theater. A young guy named Jason Matthews connected with the theatre came up to me and threw out the possibility of a stage version.

‘I was sceptical (a) that it would work; and (b) that it would just look like we were capitalising on the film’s success. But I heard him out and I thought, this could be fun. Never having written a play before I was particularly excited when they told me I could hire the director and that they couldn’t change a word of my play script without my approval.’

Plus, ‘because the play is based on my novel I can use scenes and dialogue that the film’s director couldn’t use’, he added.

‘It’s still very much Miles and his buddy Jack on their antic weeklong road-trip through wine country before the latter is to be married, but it goes in a few surprising new directions, and the ending adheres to the ending in my book.’

Sideways The play is directed by David Grindley at St James Theatre and is running from the 26th May to 9th July. Tickets from £15.

Sideways is produced in London by Matt Chisling and Amy Anzel for Pinot Productions Ltd.

Not seen Sideways? Here’s the official trailer for the film:


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