News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 7th March 1997

Have the lunatics taken over the asylum? The Battersea Arts Centre is offering four critics the opportunity to direct plays, which will be reviewed by performers and directors. Nicholas de Jong of the Evening Standard will stage Jean Anouilh's The Traveller Without Luggage to be reviewed by Stephen Daldry of the Royal Court. Jeremy Kingston of The Times has chosen Albertine In Five Times by Canadian Michael Tremblay. Michael Billington of The Guardian (the only one who has directed before) takes on Harold Pinter's The Lover and Strindberg's The Stronger. Freelancer James Christopher tackles a new play The Shoe Shop Of Desire by Robert Young. The season runs from 9th to 27th April. The ongoing battle between creators and critics which sparked this season off, seems to me to be founded on a basic misapprehension on the part of the creators. They don't realise that the critics job description is not "provide free PR for theatre productions", but "entertain the readers of this newspaper".

Suddenly Oscar Wilde is everywhere. As Simon Callow starts previewing The Importance Of Being Oscar at the Savoy Theatre, The Royal Exchange Manchester production of Lady Windermere's Fan is coming to the Theatre Royal Haymarket from 1st April. Gabrielle Drake, Rosalind Knight and Malcolm Rennie star, and the director is Braham Murray.

This year's Covent Garden Festival runs from 26th May to 7th June, with four new venues taking part. Highlights include the European premiere of the record breaking San Francisco music revue Beach Blanket Babylon; the Early Opera Company production of Handel's Ariodante; the London premiere of Sondheim's Anyone Can Whistle; British Youth Opera's new production of The Gondoliers; and by popular demand, the return of Trial By Jury to Bow Street Magistrates' Court. For full details join the mailing list by calling 0171 405 7555 (24hrs)

Having wrung as much drama as is possible from the Renault Clio, Nicole is spreading her wings. Her alter ego, model and actress Estelle Skornik, is joining Christopher Cazenove, Edward Hardwicke and Lynda Baron in Home truths, a new play by Rosemary Friedman. It opens a seven date pre London tour at the Theatre Royal Nottingham on 1st April

The Rumour Machine has it: that Damn Yankees, the Richard Adler and Jerry Ross baseball musical may now go to the Adelphi Theatre rather than the Savoy, as it has 30% larger seating capacity; that Saturday Night Fever, the stage adaptation of the film, may stick with the London Palladium, but delay production until it is free next February; that Rent and The Pyjama Game are still looking for homes - possibly at the Savoy; and finally, that another theatrical record has been broken. You probably know that the shortest run ever was a show that closed at the interval on its first night, when the iron curtain could not be lifted. Now a production of the two handed play Same Time Next Year has been abandoned after the first day of rehearsal. Apparently David Soul was to have starred with Gemma Craven, but withdrew at the last minute. Dennis Waterman was drafted in to replace him, but Gem and Den struck sparks of the wrong kind, and no-one came back for the second day. The Rumour Machine grinds on.