News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 24th January 1997

Members of the Society Of London Theatres have voted overwhelmingly against a proposal to publish weekly box office figures, as is normal for Broadway shows. Last year a number of leading producers said they were prepared to reveal returns if everyone else did. The majority view was that publishing figures would compromise their ability to nurse new shows which opened to poor business.

Going from strength to strength in its new West End home, the Royal Court Theatre will present the world premiere of a new play by Doug Lucie, about the decline of modern British journalism, called The Shallow End. It opens on 13th February, and marks the return to the stage of Jane Asher, playing the wife of a respected newspaperman whose career is threatened by a downmarket take-over. The director is Robin Lefervre. In the pipeline are new works by Caryl Churchill, Martin Crimp and Brian Friel.

Another world premiere, a new Arnold Wesker play When God Wanted A Son, opens at the New End Theatre in Hampstead on 6th February. It explores the relationship of a Jewish professor and his almost anti-Semitic wife. The cast includes Candice Fisher, Jacqueline Pearce and Lawrence Werber, and the director is Spencer Butler.

An Irish comedy Women On The Verge Of HRT which opened at the West Belfast Festival in 1995 and has since played throughout Ireland and Scotland is soon to make its English debut. A West End opening is planned for the spring, following a season at Edinburgh's Festival Theatre. The play tells the story of two women "the wrong side of forty" on a pilgrimage to Donegal to see the man of their dreams, the superstar balladeer Daniel O'Donnell, during which the reassess their lives.

Tom and Clem, a new play by actor Stephen Churchett (the accountant from The House Of Elliot), about the relationship between Tom Driberg and Clement Atlee, opens at the Aldwych Theatre on 14th April. It stars Michael Gambon, fresh from his Broadway triumph in David Hare's Skylight, and Alec McCowen. The director is Richard Wilson and the producer is Michael Codron.

The next production at the Almeida Theatre will be a new version of Anton Chekov's Ivanov written by David Hare, opening on 18th February. Directed by Jonathan Kent, the impressive cast includes Diane Bull, Ralph Fienes, Oliver Ford Davies, Bill Paterson and Harriet Walter. Looking ahead to the autumn at the Almeida, Richard Griffith and Penelope Wilton are discussing the possibility of starring in David Hare's adaptation of Shaw's Heartbreak House, which Hare will also direct. Surely our leading playwrights should be producing new work not recycling other people's ideas. What next - rewriting Shakespeare as Dr Bowdler did in 19th century?