News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 9th July 2004

The National Theatre has announced new productions to be staged in the autumn. In the Lyttelton: Sam Shepard's Buried Child, a claustrophobic domestic comedy with violent undertones, set deep in America's heartland, directed by Matthew Warchus, will open on 29th September. In the Cottesloe: Antony Sher will perform Primo, his own adaptation of Primo Levi's autobiographical book If This Is A Man, about his survival at Auschwitz, directed by Richard Wilson, opening on 30th September; Declan Donnellan will direct his new version of Nikolai Erdman's The Mandate, a comedy that exposes a post revolutionary Russian society riddled with hypocrisy and confusion, with Deborah Findlay and Sinead Matthews, opening on 26th October; and Kwame Kwei-Armah's Fix Up, a drama about racial politics in Tottenham, directed by Angus Jackson, will receive its premiere on 7th December.

Dougray Scott and Jasper Britton will to star in Jean Anouilh's Becket, in a new version by Frederic Raphael, directed by John Caird, opening on 27th October at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. The play explores the relationship between Henry II and his friend Thomas Beckett, with whom he came into conflict and betrayed, when Beckett became Archbishop of Canterbury. The producer is Stanhope Productions.

Christian Slater will make his UK stage debut with Frances Barber, Mackenzie Crook and Adrian Hope in Dan Wasserman's adaptation of Ken Kesey's One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, directed by Guy Masterson. The cast will also include Stephen K Amos, David Calvitto, Ian Coppinger, Adrian Hope, Katherine Jakeways, Dave Johns, Owen O'Neill, Phil Nichol, Lucy Porter, Gavin Robertson and Lizzie Roper. It is the story of a gambler who has faked psychosis to avoid jail, but finds life in a mental hospital worse than he bargained for. The production will play a prospective pre London season from 6th to 30th August at the Assembly Rooms as part of this year's Edinburgh Fringe, produced by Nica Burns for Theatreshare, Max Weitzenhoffer and Ian Lenagan.

The autumn season at the Royal Court Theatre will open on 9th September with Rupert Graves, Douglas Hodge and Anna Maxwell Martin in the premiere of Joe Penhall's Dumb Show, directed by Terry Johnson. The play examines contemporary celebrity culture through the business dealings of a Saturday night television comedian. This will be followed by Forty Winks, a new play Kevin Elyot, directed by Katie Mitchell.

Tim Curry, David Hyde Pierce and Hank Azaria will star in Monty Python's Spamalot, Eric Idle's musical adaptation of the film Monty Python And The Holy Grail, opening on 10th March next year at the Shubert Theatre in New York. The show will include three songs from the film, plus a new score with lyrics Idle and music by John Du Prez. A cast of eight will play more than 30 characters, directed by Mike Nichols, with choreography by Casey Nicholaw. The show will play a pre Broadway season at the Shubert Theatre in Chicago from 21st December to 16th January. The producer is Ostar Boyett Productions.

The Young Vic has announced what it calls a Walkabout season, performing old hits in a variety of venues, while a two year 12.5m rebuilding programme is carried out to its current home. A similar policy by the Royal Opera House brought it to the verge of bankruptcy in 1997. The opera Tobias And The Angel, with libretto by David Lan, and music by Jonathan Dove, directed John Fulljames, will play at St John's Church Waterloo in September, before touring to five other churches around the UK. The musical Simply Heavenly, with book and lyrics by Langston Hughes, and music by David Martin, based on stories of Harlem in the 1950s, with Clive Rowe and Ruby Turner, directed by Josette Bushell-Mingo, with choreography by Paul J Medford, is confirmed to open the new Trafalgar Studios 2 on 19th October. Sleeping Beauty, written and directed by Rufus Norris, based on Perrault's 17th century tale, will play at the Barbican Theatre in December. Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin In The Sun, the story of a family's fight for racial equality, with Lennie James, Kananu Kirimi, Novella Nelson and Cecilia Noble, directed by David Lan, will run at the Lyric Hammersmith in February.

Patricia Routledge and Roy Hudd are to star in George S Kaufman and George Teichmann's comedy The Solid Gold Cadillac, directed by Ian Brown, which opens a prospective pre West End tour at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford on 1st September. It is a satire on corporate corruption, with a retired actress using her handful of shares to bring the greedy executives of a major company to account.

With the usual construction and funding delays, the opening of the new 8.5m Elizabethan style theatre in Kingston upon Thames is not now expected until the autumn of next year. However, artistic director Peter Hall is to stage his production of As You Like It in the shell of the building, for a three week run, opening on 3rd December. The production, which first seen at the Theatre Royal in Bath last summer, stars Rebecca Hall, James Laurenson, Michael Siberry and Philip Voss, and after the Kingston run, will play in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The stage and auditorium of the main 1,100 capacity theatre, designed by Michael Holden Associates, follows the ground plan of the Rose Theatre built at Bankside in 1587, but it is housed within a modern building development, and a further 3.3m still needs to be raised before it can be completed. Hall plans to establish a permanent company of 20, presenting a repertory of eight plays, running annually from September to June. The theatre will work in association with a new post graduate theatre course at Kingston University, of which Hall is Chancellor.

Exit Theatre Co-op will present the UK premiere of Murder Me Always, by Lee Mueller, from 5th to 7th August, at the Croydon Clocktower. Adapted by the director Sam Barbot-Freeman from the original American script, it claims to be a 'comic collision' between the worlds of Agatha Christie and The Bill. The audience will be able to question the suspects, and submit their guess as to 'whodunit', with the first correct solution drawn at each performance winning a bottle of champagne.

The Three Choirs Festival this year rests at Gloucester, from 7th to 14th August, featuring choral masterpieces including the Brahms and Faure Requiems, Elgar's The Kingdom and The Music Makers, the Poulenc Gloria, Haydn's Creation and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Among the highlights will be: Richard Hickox conducting the London Symphony by Vaughan Williams, in its original version; Raphael Wallfisch in the Elgar Cello Concerto; Emma Johnson in the Mozart Clarinet Concerto; Tasmin Little in the Delius Violin Concerto; the Cathedral Choristers singing in Messiaen's Trois Petites Liturgies; and David Briggs in the Saint-Saens Organ Symphony. Full details can be found on the Three Choirs Festival web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

Cirque du Soliel will return to the Royal Albert Hall with its last show Dralion, from 6th to 30th January. The title is derived not from a furnishing fabric, but from the words dragon and lion, as it combines the company's usual acrobatic content with traditional Chinese circus skills. The show features 55 artists from ten countries, including 37 Chinese acrobats, and is directed by Guy Caron, with choreography by Julie Lachance.