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An audacious proposal by the English experimental theater director Ken Campbell to stage Illuminatus! in its entirety at The National Theatre in London was met with surprisingly open arms, particularly given its inordinate length: a cycle of five plays—The Eye of the Pyramid, Swift Kick Inc., The Man Who Murdered God, Walpurgisnacht Rock and Leviathan—each consisting of five 23-minute-long acts. Sir Peter Hall, director of the National at the time, wrote of Campbell in his Diaries, "He is a total anarchist and impossible to pin down. He more or less said it was a crime to be serious."
The adaptation became the very first production at the National's Cottesloe Theatre space, running from 4 March to 27 March 1977. It had first opened in Liverpool on 23 November 1976. The first night of the London version featured Robert Anton Wilson, accompanied by Shea, as a naked extra in the witches' sabbat scene. Wilson was delighted with the adaptation, saying: "I was thunderstruck at what a magnificent job they did in capturing the exact tone and mixture of fantasy and reality in the book. I've come to the conclusion that this isn't literature. It's too late in the day for literature. This is magic!"
The 23-strong cast featured several actors, such as Jim Broadbent, David Rappaport and Chris Langham, who went on to successful film, stage and television careers. Broadbent alone played more than a dozen characters in the play. Bill Drummond designed sets for the show, and it was eventually seen (when it moved to London, with Bill Nighy then joining the cast) by the young Jimmy Cauty. Drummond and Cauty later went on to form the Illuminatus!-inspired electronica band The KLF.
In thanks, Wilson dedicated his Cosmic Trigger I: The Final Secret of the Illuminati (1977) to "Ken Campbell and the Science-Fiction Theatre Of Liverpool, England." The play was later staged in Seattle, Washington in 1978.
No film or video exists of the performances at The National Theatre. However a full audio recording does exist and is available as a limited edition perk in the crowdfunding for the 2014 stage play of Wilson's book Cosmic Trigger I: The Final Secret of the Illuminati, adapted by Daisy Eris Campbell (Ken Campbell's daughter).