From minor characters in Shakespeare's Hamlet to 19th century Russian philosophers to Eastern Bloc rock enthusiasts, Tony Award-winning British playwright Sir Tom Stoppard (The Coast of Utopia) has covered a wide array of subjects in his half-century career. He is about to add a psychedelic exploration of the imagination to that list with his radio play adaptation of Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side of the Moon," coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the release of the best-selling album. Dark Side will premiere on BBC Radio 2 on August 26. No plans have been announced for an American airing.
With over 50 million copies sold worldwide, "The Dark Side of the Moon" is one of the most popular albums of all time, eclipsed only by Michael Jackson's "Thriller." First released in March of 1973, it remained on the charts through 1988, an astonishing 741 weeks. It features songs like "Money," "Time," and "Brain Damage."
Stoppard, a longtime fan of Pink Floyd, has been considering writing a play based on the album since its release. Speaking to the BBC about the 40-year development of the idea, Stoppard said, "Finally I found some time and sat down and listened to the album for the thousandth time and picked up from the beginning and kept going." Of course, he's written over 25 plays in that time, so he can be forgiven for the delay.
The leading roles in this hour-long audio drama will be played by Amaka Okafor and Olivier Award winner Iwan Rheon. The cast will also include Theatre World Award winner Bill Nighy (The Vertical Hour), Tony Award nominee Rufus Sewell (Rock 'n' Roll), and Olivier Award winner Adrian Scarborough (Les Misérables).
Here's "Money," arguably the most popular single from the album. You can listen while imagining Bill Nighy's habitually blasé voice speaking over it to get an idea of what Dark Side will be like: