Long-time Pink Floyd fan Sir Tom Stoppard has written a fantastical and psychedelic play for BBC Radio 2 based on the themes from the Floyd's enduring classic, The Dark Side of the Moon, an album that stayed in the charts for 741 weeks from 1973 to 1988 and sold an estimated 50 million copies.
The play, Dark Side, will be broadcast on the August bank holiday and will star Olivier Award-winner Iwan Rheon (who played Simon in E4's Misfits) and stage actress Amaka Okafor (The Garbage King), alonside such luminaries as Bill Nighy, Rufus Sewell and Adrian Scarborough.
Stoppard was first approached with the suggestion of writing a play based on the album by a friend in 1973. Only now has he taken up the challenge, creating an hour-long audio drama incorporating music from the album and a story that takes listeners on a journey through their imaginations.
He said, “This is more or less, I think, the first time anything like this has been done on radio. [I thought] Yes I definitely want to do that but had no idea for a long time what I would do. 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…”
Stoppard has used the music of Pink Floyd in a play before, in the acclaimed stage production Rock 'N' Roll, which premiered at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in 2006 and mixed music and politics from the 1960s to the 1990s.
Commenting on the new play, Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour said, “I have read the script of Tom’s radio play Dark Side and found it fascinating. I can’t wait to hear it come to life with the great cast performing it and our music woven into it. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate The Dark Side Of The Moon’s 40 year anniversary.”
There is an apocryphal tale that if you play The Dark Side of the Moon at the same time as watching The Wizard of Oz it forms a perfect soundtrack for the film, so will Stoppard's play also transport listeners to a magical land full of weird and wonderful people and creatures? Find out on 26 August.
As well as the Radio 2 play, over on BBC 6 Music Tom Robinson will be inviting Now Playing @ 6 Music listeners to decide the music played in the run up to Dark Side.