News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 15th January 1999

This year's repertoire at Shakespeare's Globe is more aggressively ambitious than ever. Julius Caesar and Antony And Cleopatra will both be played in costume of the original production period, with all male casts, and live music played on early instruments. As previously mentioned, artistic director Mark Rylance will play Cleopatra. In the pursuit of authenticity, the Globe does not have a tannoy system, and there is talk of replacing backstage lighting with candles! The repertoire is completed by The Comedy Of Errors and a new specially commissioned play Augustine's Oak by Peter Oswald, about St Augustine's mission to convert the pagan English in 597. The season runs from 13th May until 26th September.

The first season for Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre Company, back in its refurbished home, will include David Threlfall as Peer Gynt in February, Richard Wilson in Waiting For Godot, and Tom Courtenay as King Lear. There will also be new work by Peter Barnes, Alex Finlayson, Jim Cartwright and Emil Wolk.

The Royal Exchange production of the Marx Brothers musical farce Animal Crackers, which played in their touring theatre on the roof of the Barbican as part of BITE 98, is opening at the Lyric Theatre on 16th March. First performed in 1928, the book is by George S Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind, and music and lyrics by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby, with additional songs by Chris Jordan. It features Ben Keaton, Joe Alessi, Toby Sedgwick and Jean Challis, and the directors are Emile Wolk and Gregory Hersov. The producers are Laurie Mansfield and David Ian, who will also present Australian comedian Mark Little in a one man show, Defending The Cave Man by Rob Becker, at the Apollo Theatre from 9th February.

The long running Off Broadway musical revue I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change receives its British premiere at Bromley Churchill, from 11th to 20th March, prior to a tour. A sharp look at male-female relationships, covering love, marriage and divorce, it has book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro, and music by Jimmy Roberts. The British cast is headed by Graham Bickley and Russell Wilcox, directed by the original New York director Joel Bishoff. It is produced by Jeremy Meadow for TEG productions.

The Roundhouse in Camden is to stage a double whammy of circus. The Circus Of Horrors returns after its success last Christmas, with a company of thirty in a further season of gory stunts and illusions, from 21st January to 21st February at 8.00pm. Acts include riding a motorbike across a high wire, and wrestling with an anaconda. It will be jointed by the more traditional (but still animal free) Gerry Cottle's Circus from 11th to 21st February at 2.00pm and/or 5.00pm.

The National Theatre is staging special children's events during Half Term week, including on 18th February: The Pandemonium Band in the Lyttelton Circle Foyer, with Paul James leading an interactive music workshop inspired by Peter Pan for children from seven upwards, at 10.30am and 2.30pm; and in the Olivier Stalls Foyer, Storytelling, with myths and magic from Ben Haggarty, and music from Sianed Jones, for children from six upwards, at 11.30am and 2.30pm. The National is holding another of its specials at Easter: Family Day on 8th April from 10.00am to 6.00pm, will present a programme of free activities and performances for all ages, throughout the foyers and terraces, and in Theatre Square.

Gross Indecency - The Three Trials Of Oscar Wilde will open at the Gielgud Theatre on 22nd March. Moises Kaufman's play, which draws on the transcripts of the trials, and has been staged Off Broadway, received its British premiere in Plymouth last September. Corin Redgrave plays Wilde and Kaufman directs.

Simon Gray, now seemingly vying with Alan Ayckbourn for the title of Most Prolific British Playwright, has a new prospectively West End bound play at Watford Palace from 19th March to 10th April. The Late Middle Classes stars Harriet Walter, Angela Pleasance, Nicholas Woodeson and James Fleet, and is directed by Harold Pinter.

The Royal Shakespeare Company summer season in Stratford will be Main House: A Midsummer Night's Dream, with Josette Simon and Nicholas Jones, directed by Michael Boyd, Othello, with Ray Fearon, Richard McCabe and Zoe Waites, directed by Michael Attenborough, Antony and Cleopatra, with Alan Bates and Frances De La Tour, directed by Steven Pimlott, and Timon of Athens with Alan Bates and John Woodvine, directed by Gregory Doran; Swan: Ben Jonson's Volpone directed by Lindsay Posner, Tales From Ovid by Ted Hughes, adapted and directed by Tim Supple, and T.S. Eliot's The Family Reunion, with Margaret Tyzack and Zoe Waites, directed by Adrian Noble. The Other Place: Oroonoko by Aphra Behn, adapted by Biyi Bandele, directed by Gregory Dawn, Don Carlos by Fredrich Schiller, directed by Gale Edwards, and A Warwickshire Testimony, a new play by April de Angelis, directed by Alison Sutcliffe. Further details are on the relaunched RSC web site via our UK Theatre Companies section.

The West End thesp drain to Broadway, continues with the opening of Patrick Marber's award winning comedy Closer, hailed as the defining play of the '90's, at the refurbished Music Box Theatre on 28th March. The cast will be Ciaran Hinds, Natasha Richardson, Rupert Graves, and surprisingly Anna Friel, replacing Liza Walker from the original cast, who was expected to go to New York.