News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 18th January 2008

The National Theatre has confirmed is productions for the rest of this year. In the Olivier: the premiere of Fram, about the Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen, written and directed by Tony Harrison, with Jasper Britton and Sian Thomas; Thomas Middleton's The Revenger's Tragedy, the bloody Jacobean tale of lust and ambition in an Italian court, with Rory Kinnear, directed by Melly Still; the premiere of Rebecca Lenkiewicz's Her Naked Skin, set against the background of the Suffragette movement, directed by Howard Davies; Tom Stoppard and Andre Previn's play for actors and orchestra Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, a co-production with Southbank Sinfonia; Sophocles's Oedipus, in a new version by Frank McGuinness, with Ralph Fiennes, directed by Jonathan Kent; and the return of the current production of Michael Murpurgo's War Horse.

In the Lyttelton: the premiere of Howard Brenton's Never So Good, exploring the compromises required by those who reach the top in democratic politics, with Jeremy Irons as Harold Macmillan and Ian MacNeice as Winston Churchill, directed by Howard Davies; Vanessa Redgrave reprising her recent Broadway performance of Joan Didion's monologue The Year Of Magical Thinking, based on her book reliving the night that her husband died of a heart attack, as her daughter lay ill in a coma, directed by David Hare; the premiere of Michael Frayn's Afterlife, about Max Reinhardt, the Austrian impresario and founder of the Salzburg Festival, directed by Michael Blakemore; Harold Pinter's A Slight Ache, a husband's dreams, desires and fears, with Simon Russell Beale; the as yet untitled new work co-directed and performed by choreographer Akram Khan and Juliette Binoche; and physical theatre company DV8 with Lloyd Newson's new piece To Be Straight With You.

In the Cottesloe: the premiere of Simon Stephens's Harper Regan, with Lesley Sharp, directed by Marianne Elliott; Dostoyevsky's The Idiot adapted and directed by Katie Mitchell, with Ben Whishaw; the return of Mitchell's production of Virginia Woolf's Waves; the premiere of Samuel Adamson's Mrs Affleck, which relocates the story of Ibsen's Little Eyolf to Manchester in the 1950s, directed by Marianne Elliott; and the Live Theatre Newcastle production of Lee Hall's The Pitmen Painters, which tells the true story of a group of Ashington coal miners in the 1930s who invited a professor to give them art appreciation classes, directed by Max Roberts. Productions next year will include the premiere of David Hare's Gethsemane, directed by Howard Davies, and Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage And Her Children, with Fiona Shaw, directed by Deborah Warner.

The Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park has announced its first season under the direction of Timothy Sheader, which runs from 2nd June to 13th September, and comprises: Romeo And Juliet, directed by Shreader; Twelfth Night, directed by Edward Dick; the musical Gigi, book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, music by Frederick Loewe, adapted from the novel by Collette about an adolescent girl living in Paris at the turn of the 20th century, with Lisa O'Hare and Millicent Martin, also directed by Sheader; and as the daytime play for young audiences, A Midsummer Night's Dream, reworked as a fast paced 75 minute physical production, directed by Dominic Leclerc. There will also be Sunday and late night cabaret and comedy from Jimmy Carr, Daniel Kitson and The Comedy Store Players.

Watford Palace Theatre's centenary season will include the premiere of Ronald Harwood's An English Tragedy, based on the story of John Amery, who was charged with high treason after making propaganda broadcasts for Nazi Germany during the Second World War, with Richard Goulding, Jeremy Child and Diana Hardcastle, directed by Di Trevis, opening on 18th February; Shakespeare's As You Like It, directed by Brigid Larmour, opening on 8th April; Alan Bennett's Kafka's Dick, a comedy in which Franz Kafka is brought back to life, opening on 13th May; and concluding the season at Christmas, a new version of Dick Whittington And His Cat, set in the year the theatre opened, written and directed by Joyce Branagh.

The world premiere Out of Joint production of David Edgar's Testing The Echo, with Teresa Banham, Kirsty Bushell, Sushil Chudasama, Farzana Dua Elahe, Ian Dunn, Robert Gwilym, Syrus Lowe and Sirine Saba, directed by Matthew Dunster, has just open a national tour at Salisbury Playhouse, which will include a visit to the the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn from 1st April. The play centres on a disparate group of immigrants in an English class, examining their paths to becoming British.

Forthcoming productions at the New End Theatre in Hampstead include Aidan Dooley performing his one person play Tom Crean Arctic Explorer, about the man who accompanied both Scott and Shackleton on their expeditions, from 5th February, produced by Gerald Armin, Play On Words Theatre and Pat Moylan; Chris Burgess's Lunch With Marlene, 'a play and a cabaret' about Marlene Dietrich and Noel Coward, with Kate O'Mara, from 26th March; the premiere of Rosemary Friedman's An Eligible Man, a comedy of grief about a recently widowed judge pursued by three women looking for a new husband, directed by Ninon Jerome, from 30th April, produced by Under The Sun Productions; and Mary Dixon's Exposed, about the human consequences for the people of Utah, of the American government's 40 year nuclear test programme carried out in the Nevada desert, from 11th June.

Leading arts organisations have joined together to urge the Government to investigate Arts Council England's handling of its budget allocation, and the proposed cuts to 194 companies. A letter to the Culture Secretary written by the National Campaign for the Arts, and co-signed by 9 other bodies, including Equity, Bectu, the Society of London Theatre/Theatrical Management Association, the Theatres Trust and the Independent Theatre Council, expresses "grave concerns", and seeks action to remedy the current situation and avert any future repeats. Meanwhile, arts practitioners and supporters have started a petition on the 10 Downing Street web site asking the Prime Minister to "support the industry by joining the growing band of people who have no confidence in The Arts Council" in the hope of shaming ACE into changing its plans. You can sign the petition now at

10 Downing Street - it will take less than a minute of your time to do so. Please support the cause of the arts, and demonstrate the strength of public feeling against ACE's proposals.