WHAT if Napoleon didn’t die in exile? What if he swapped identities with a lowly sailor and made it back to Paris? What then?

Told by an Idiot, Theatre Royal Plymouth and Arcola Theatre present the world premiere of Napoleon Disrobed a comic alternative history based on the novel The Death of Napoleon by Simon Leys.

The play is a wry re-imagining of the final years of Napoleon Bonaparte and examines how legend can often be stronger than reality.

Using the company’s trademark comic physicality, Napoleon Disrobed looks at the absurdity of trying to retrieve time and glory and dissects the notion of what it is to lose power but gain personal freedom in the transition from one identity to another.

Director Kathryn Hunter said: “When I was given Simon Leys’ novella to read, I was immediately caught by the author’s wit and playfulness.

“The story is not a serious historical proposition but a pretext to ask questions about how we live and what we regard as important in our lives.

“I am so excited to be creating this adaptation with Paul Hunter and Ayesha Antoine. Paul is pure comic genius, whose seemingly infinite invention often leaves me speechless in rehearsal.

“Ayesha is a performer of huge depth, strength and versatility. Together they make a formidable pair and take us on an unforgettable journey.”

Told by an Idiot explores the human condition through theatre that is bigger than life.

They acknowledge the artifice of performance and make no attempt to put reality on stage, but they inhabit the space between laughter and pain, which exists in the real world.

Their work is rooted in the live event and thrives on a sense of spontaneity and risk, celebrating the unpredictability of performance.

Through playful collaborative writing, anarchic physicality and a comedic sensibility they create genuinely spontaneous experiences for audiences.

Napoleon Disrobed can be seen in the Round at the Stephen Joseph Theatre from Tuesday, 20 to Saturday, March 24.

Tickets are available from the box office on 01723 370542 or online at www.sjt.uk.com