News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 16th January 2009

The National Theatre has announced further productions in its autumn season. In the Olivier: Terry Pratchett's Nation, adapted by Mark Ravenhill, about the survivors of a tsunami on an island in the South Seas, directed by Melly Still; in the Lyttelton: a new play by Alan Bennett - as yet untitled - about the friendship between W H Auden and Benjamin Britten, directed by Nicholas Hytner; and in the Cottesloe: Ferdinand Bruckner's The Pains Of Youth, about a group of students living in a lodging house obsessed with sex and death, directed by Katie Mitchell. Despite the current economic situation the theatre has achieved a 93% attendance record in the last six months, with 100% for some of the experimental Sunday performances, which will become a permanent feature from July. The National is to begin an experimental series of live relays of its productions on 25th June, with Racine's Phaedre, featuring Helen Mirren, Margaret Tyzack and Dominic Cooper, which will be shown at 50 independent cinemas and arts centres across the country, and some 100 other venues around the world.

The Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park has announced its 2009 season, which runs from 25th May to 12th September, and comprises: Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Timothy Shreader; Oscar Wilde's The Importance Of Being Earnest, a 'trivial comedy for serious people' about living a double life, directed by Irina Brown; the musical Hello Dolly!, book by Michael Stewart, music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, adapted from Thornton Wilder's The Matchmaker, the story of a meddling widow who tries to engineer the romances of several couples - including her own with a curmudgeonly merchant, also directed by Sheader, with choreography by Stephen Mear; and as the daytime play for young audiences, Shakespeare's The Tempest, reworked as a fast paced interactive production, directed by Liam Steel,. There will also be Sunday and late night cabaret and comedy events.

The recently reopened Bristol Old Vic will stage the world premiere of Catherine Johnson's Suspension, with Louise Plowright, April Pearson, Stuart McLoughlin and Rosalind March, directed by Heather Williams, in the Old Vic Studio, opening on 3rd March. It is a comedy that centres around two fathers who stage a traffic stopping demonstration of love (involving Bristol's famous bridge), exploring themes of parenting and relationships.

Rob Brydon will conclude his current stand up comedy tour Rob Brydon Live! with a season at the Apollo Theatre from 11th to 23rd May.

The spring season at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond will include David Lewis's Greenwash, a New York set comedy embracing topical issues, with Richard Attlee, Carolyn Backhouse, Stephen Beckett, Miranda Foster, Jonathan Guy Lewis, Joy Richardson and Amanda Royle, directed by Sam Walters, opening on 13th February; Georges Schehade's The Story Of Vasco, the premiere of a translation by Ted Hughes, a comic fairytale set in a war torn country, directed by Adam Barnard, opening on 27th March; and Michel Vinaver's Factors Unforeseen, in a translation by Catherine Crimp, a play about global capitalism, encompassing growth, collapse and re-growth, and its effect on all concerned, directed by Sam Walters, opening on 1st May.

On The Casting Couch: Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart will be joined by Simon Callow and Ronald Pickup in Waiting For Godot, opening at the Haymarket Theatre on 6th May.

Forthcoming shows at the Bush Theatre on Shepherd's Bush Green will be Neil LaBute's Wrecks a monologue about the nature of life and death, and what society will accept in the name of love, performed by Robert Glenister, directed by Josie Rourke, opening on 13th February; Steve Waters's The Contingency Plan, a double bill examining the effects of climate change from different perspectives, comprising Resilience, a Whitehall satire, and On The Beach, a family drama, opening on 7th May; and Alexi Kaye Campbell's Apologia, in which a political activist is confronted by a version of the past that differs from her memoirs, directed by Josie Rourke, opening on 22nd June. In addition, the HighTide production of Adam Brace's Stovepipe, about a soldier's hunt for his friend who has gone AWOL in Jordan, with Shaun Dooley, Niall Macgregor, Eleanor Matsuura, Christian Bradley and Sargon Yelda, directed by Michael Longhurst, will play promenade performances at the West 12 Centre in Shepherd's Bush, from 3rd March, in collaboration with the Bush and the National Theatre.

St Stephen's, a beautiful Victorian gothic church designed by Samuel Sanders Teulon, on Rosslyn Hill at the junction with Pond Street in Hampstead, which has been lying derelict for over 30 years, will reopen in March after a 4m restoration as an arts and community venue. Antic Disposition theatre company will be in residence, and its opening productions will include C S Lewis's The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe, adapted by Adrian Mitchell, in which a wardrobe in a house in wartime Britain is a portal to another world, directed by Ben Horslen and John Risebero, opening on 20th March; and Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, again directed by Horslen and Risebero, opening on 25th June. St Stephen's will be available for rental for theatre, concerts, recitals, exhibitions and social events such as weddings.

The winter season at the Watermill Theatre in Newbury will include Yasmina Reza's Life x 3, which offers three versions of what happens/might happen when a couple arrive for a dinner party 24 hours early, directed by Sarah Esdaile, from 29th January; the all male Propeller Theatre Company productions of Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice and A Midsummer's Night Dream, directed by Edward Hall, from 4th March; and Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit, in which a seance summons up the ghost of a novelist's first wife, who is determined to cause trouble for him and her replacement, directed by Orla O'Loughlin, from 21st May.

The summer season at the Young Vic will include Been So Long, a musical with book and lyrics by Che Walker, adapted from his play about how five lives collide in a seedy London bar, music by Arthur Darvill, directed by Walker, from 11th June. A co-production with English Touring Theatre.

Prior to this English Touring Theatre will stage George Feydeau's Where There's A Will, adapted by Nicki Frei, a classic French farce about infidelity and marriage, with Nelly Harker, Jason Thorpe, Sara Stewart, Charles Edwards, Tony Gardner and Teddy Kempner, directed by Peter Hall, opening a tour at the Rose Theatre in Kingston on 4th February.