David Hare, creator of the BBC and PBS drama Roadkill, said that he has written a new play based entirely on his experience contracting coronavirus. The screenwriter-playwright revealed Wednesday he had written the one-man play Beat the Devil during a panel for the Hugh Laurie-fronted drama at PBS’ TCA virtual press tour.
Hare, who penned the four-part political thriller Roadkill from National Treasure producer The Forge, said an actor had been chosen to perform Beat the Devil but that he could not disclose the identity. Due to current social distancing guidelines in London, he also did not know when the play would be performed but expressed confidence theaters will open before the end of August. (UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has indicated indoor theater with social distancing measures could begin in August, but likely not until November at the earliest without social distancing in place.)
The Oscar-nominated screenwriter of The Hours and The Reader said he contracted COVID-19 from Roadkill‘s director Michael Keillor in the editing room. He called the virus “quite extraordinary” and that people don’t “understand how extraordinarily unpredictable [coronavirus] is not just on a daily but on an hourly basis.”
Laurie stars in Roadkill as self-made, forceful and charismatic politician Peter Laurence, whose life is being picked apart by his enemies. Laurence, however, is shamelessly untroubled by guilt or remorse as he walks a high wire between glory and catastrophe. Peaky Blinders actress Helen McCrory plays the British prime minister in the series, which also stars Westworld’s Sidse Babett Knudsen and Dublin Murders’ Sarah Greene.
Filming took place in London last year, with a premiere date still in limbo.
When asked about the inspiration behind the title Hare intimated his disappointment on the state of incarceration in the UK. He added, “I love the Dickensian idea – that’s where it came from – the Dickensian lust to be allowed to go from the very top of society to the very bottom… That’s the kind of stuff that personally I love watching on television and that’s the kind of series that I wanted to write.”
Roadkill is directed by Keillor (Line of Duty) and executive produced by Hare, George Faber and Mark Pybus for The Forge, Lucy Richer for the BBC, and Keillor and Rebecca Eaton for Masterpiece. Andy Litvin (The Trial) produces and All3Media International is the distributor.