Helen Edmundson's stage adaptation of Arthur Ransome's 1930 novel, Swallows and Amazons, with songs by Neil Hannon, was first performed at the Bristol Old Vic on 1 December 2010. The production was remounted by the National Theatre in association with the Children’s Touring Partnership at the Vaudeville Theatre in London’s West End, with performances from 15 December 2011 and a subsequent national tour.
The stage version begins in the attic of an old house, where Titty, an old woman, comes across some old photographs while dusting. As the photographs spring into life, and the duster is transformed into a parrot called Polly, Titty is transported to the Lake District in the summer of 1929 to relive the adventures of her childhood along with John, Susan and Roger; Nancy and Peggy, the self-proclaimed Amazon Pirates; and the dastardly Captain Flint.
In a production note included in the published text, Helen Edmundson writes: 'Imagination is at the very centre of Swallows and Amazons. The children in the story are given the freedom to act out an ambitious, enthralling, imaginative game. And that proved to be the key to this adaptation, and to the staging of it. No need for real boats on real water, no need for owls and cormorants, no need, even, for children (they were played by adults in the first production, although I would love to see children perform it).'
The Bristol Old Vic production was directed by Tom Morris, with movement by Toby Sedgwick and set and costume design by Robert Innes Hopkins. The cast was Celia Adams, Amy Booth-Steel, Rosalie Craig, Akiya Henry, Stuart McLoughlin, Stewart Wright, Alice Barclay, Trevor Michael Georges, Fionn Gill, Pieter Lawman, Richard Standing and Kyra Williams.