Ricky Gervais on world’s first stage version of cult TV series The Office
The BBC comedy series The Office has been sold to more than 80 countries around the world, and local versions have been made in the United States, France, Germany, Chile, Israel and Sweden. But there’s never been a stage version – until now that is. Last weekend Prague’s Municipal Theatre saw the première of Kancl, the world’s first ever stage adaptation of the cult series. Rob Cameron spoke to Office star and co-creator Ricky Gervais, and asked him for his reaction.
I remember on one of The Office DVDs there’s the making of and you and Stephen are talking about the ‘comedy of embarrassment’, you know those long, lingering camera shots after a punch line falls flat in a joke, or Gareth says something ridiculous. Do you think that can work on stage, as opposed to being on film?
“It can really work on stage.”
“It can, and I’ll tell you why it can. For those embarrassing things to work, you needed a few ingredients. They had to be acted well. They had to look real. You then had to remind yourself it was a documentary, and I did that by often Brent looking at the camera, so you felt his pain more. But you didn’t just feel his pain; suddenly, you empathised with him, because he’s looking at you, and you can’t help him. So suddenly you’re taken straight there. You’re going – Oh my God, I know what that feels like. And so as an audience member, when someone on stage looks out at you, you can feel their pain actually, because they’ve broken the fourth wall.”
Can I ask you – I’m just curious – about these foreign adaptations, the French and the German and so on. I’m curious how much artistic control you and Stephen Merchant have over them. Do you have a say in who’s going to play the Swedish Brent or the German Big Keith?
“No, the only one we had input to was the American Office. The others we just give our blessing to.”
And have you seen all of them?
Instead of jelly.
“It’s little things like that. So everything changes a little bit. It does need to be different. With all those core things that I first mentioned being intact, the details change. And so they should. So they should.”