THERE is a reign of terror descending over France, with aristocrats being sent to the guillotine.

The French Revolution has become a time of far-reaching social and political upheaval, but there is one mysterious figure who has been saving people from meeting their maker.

The Scarlet Pimpernel is the tale of an Englishman who has been rescuing aristocrats as they face the guillotine. but is only known by leaving his calling card of a small, red flower – a pimpernel.

An adaptation of Baroness Orczy’s iconic novel will come to the Haymarket between September 26-29.

Andrew Ryan is set to play wealthy Englishman Sir Percy Blakeney, who is presented as a dim-witted, foppish playboy.

Coming into the play, Ryan had heard of the tale of the Scarlet Pimpernel but was not too familiar with the story.

“I thought everyone would know the story,” Ryan tells The Gazette.

“But I was one of those people who had heard the name of it but wasn’t really aware of the story.

“We have found that to be the case with a lot of people who come along is that they know the name, but they come to discover the story.”

In getting prepared for the role as well as following the adapted script, Ryan, who has played the dame in Beauty and The Beast at the Theatre Royal Nottingham and in the TV series My Parents Are Aliens, has used a rather difference source.

“Obviously our version had to be honed a bit for the stage,” Ryan continued.

“And in looking at how I was going to play Sir Percy, who is very different to everyone else, I watched Carry On Don’t Lose Your Head, which is a reference to the Scarlet Pimpernel anyway, so I drew reference from that.”

He added: “It is strange when you start to get into things you think it is going to go one way, but it always ends up coming out in a very different way.”

Having travelled across most of the UK and having stints at the West End, Ryan is no stranger to the stage.

However, his love for the theatre started on a humble family holiday.

He adds: “I think I was about three-years-old and we had gone on holiday to Llandudno.

“We decided to go on a day out to Colwyn Bay and I just remember there being this puppet theatre down there.

“My parents thought I would get really bored with it, but I was just mesmerised by it and that was it, I was hooked and I knew that I wanted to be involved in the theatre.”

Ryan has been in the industry long enough to see the changing trends of theatre goers but is still a strong believer of capturing an audience early.

He said: “I think a lot of people start out going to see the panto which is predominantly for a young audience.

“As an actor or performer you have just to hope that they fall in love with the theatre from there.

“I mean even the though Pimpernel isn’t necessarily aimed at a younger audience there are certainly elements they would enjoy, so you always hope to see young faces in the crowd.”

The Scarlet Pimpernel will be at the Haymarket for four days.

For more information and tickets go to