News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 30th September 2005

The Peter Hall Company Theatre Royal Bath production of George Bernard Shaw's You Never Can Tell, which is currently touring, will open at the Garrick Theatre on 7th November. Edward Fox, Diana Quick, Ken Bones, Rebecca Callard, Nancy Carroll, William Chubb and Ryan Kiggell star in the comedy of love, marriage, courtship, social station and the changing role of women in society (as in most Shaw plays) directed by Peter Hall.

As the picnic hampers and travel rugs are packed away for another year, Glyndebourne Touring Opera takes to the road until December, following a launch mini season of performances on its home turf from 11th to 29th October. The repertoire comprises: the world premiere of Tangier Tattoo, music by John Lunn, and libretto by Stephen Plaice, a contemporary operatic thriller set in Morocco, encompassing the drug trade, religious fundamentalists and Anglo American lovers, directed by Stephen Langridge; plus this season's new production of Rossini's La Cenerentola, directed by Peter Hall; and Graham Vick's 2000 production of Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro.

The Agatha Christie Theatre Company, a partnership between the writer's estate and producer Bill Kenwright, is to be launched in January, with exclusive rights to create new touring productions of Christie's original stage plays. The first production will be the Poirot mystery The Hollow, in which a supposedly staged murder turns out to be real. It will open an extensive regional tour at the Theatre Royal Windsor on 11th January. This will be followed by The Unexpected Guest in 2007, and Spider's Web in 2008, with future productions of Black Coffee, Witness For The Prosecution and Verdict planned.

Forkbeard Fantasy are touring a new production of their previous hit The Fall Of The House Of Ushertettes, which will visit the Riverside Studios, Hammersmith from 10th to 15th October. Loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe's gothic horror story of a not dissimilar title, it is the tale of Liquid Film, a long defunct celluloid mixture once sprayed from specialised projectors, whose leaked ghosts still flicker in an old cinema's labyrinthine libraries. Chris Britton, Tim Britton and Penny Saunders founded Forkbeard Fantasy in 1974, and their hallmark is the use of visual trickery and the blending theatre and film. This show is conceived, written and performed by the company. Further information and a trailer can be found on the FF web site via the link from Theatre Companies in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The winner of the 2005 Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award for emerging practitioners in experimental theatre, Almost Blue, adapted from the thriller novel by Carlo Lucarelli, will open at Riverside Studios, Hammersmith on 24th November. A blind man suffering from synaesthesia (through which he experiences sound as colours) surfs the airwaves with an audio-scanner, following the trail of a murderer - a case in which each of the murders appears to have been perpetrated by the previous victim. The cast includes Benjamin Duke and Eddie Kay. The unique piece of sound led theatre is collaboration between director Lu Kemp, writer Christopher Dunkley, sound designer Gareth Fry and choreographer Dominic Leclerc. The producer is Neil Laidlaw.

The 11th arena opera season at the Royal Albert Hall will feature the return of Puccini's La Boheme, in a translation by David Parry, set in 1940s Paris, directed by Francesca Zambello, with choreography by Arthur Pita, from 23rd February to 6th March. Zambello will also direct an arena production of the groundbreaking Jerome Kern - Oscar Hammerstein musical Show Boat at the Royal Albert Hall next spring. Both shows will be produced by Raymond Gubbay.

Kathryn Shevelow's Charlotte: A True Account Of An Actress's Flamboyant Adventures In Eighteenth Century London's Wild And Wicked Theatrical World, recently published by Bloomsbury, by does what it says on the cover. It provides a picture of the life of Charlotte Cibber, daughter of the famous actor and playwright Colley Cibber, who found success playing male roles, at a time when audiences had a taste for women in breeches. In this guise she often appeared in sketches lampooning her father, who was known for his affected mannerisms. Eventually they fell out, when her career plummeted he refused to help her, and they were never reconciled. Charlotte was reduced to selling sausages door to door, making puppets, working in breeches as a waiter, and finally died destitute. So no happy ending, but a realistic picture of the harsh life of the theatre at the time, from the heights of Drury Lane to the depths of rural travelling players, which puts the 'suffering' of today's theatricals into perspective.

The inimitable Kaos Theatre company, who combine a cappella singing, physical theatre, storytelling, text, recorded soundtracks and video in their presentations of new writing and adaptations of classic texts, are currently touring with The Kaos Moll Flanders. Writer and Director Xavier Leret has taken Daniel Defoe's classic tale of adventure and debauchery, about one woman's journey through poverty, prostitution, pick pocketing and penitence, and given it the Kaos touch - not least by having Moll played by a man: Ralf Higgins. The cast also includes Jack Corcoran, Jane Hartley, Richard Nutter and Sarah Thorn.

The autumn season of the Royal Opera House's ROH2 programme in the Linbury Theatre includes: a new production of Benjamin Britten's opera A Midsummer Night's Dream, with William Towers, Gillian Keith, Katie Van Kooten, Robert Murray, Grant Doyle and Tove Dahlberg, directed by Olivia Fuchs, from 25th November to 3rd December; and the world premiere of Pinocchio, a family show using dance, song and theatre to tell the tale of the a magical puppet without strings who wants to become a real boy, created by Will Tuckett, with a score by Martin Ward, from 16th December to 7th January.

The Rumour Machine On Broadway says: that a Gate Theatre Dublin production of Brian Friel's Faith Healer, starring Ralph Fiennes as a travelling faith healer and Ian McDiarmid as his manager, directed by Jonathan Kent, which will open next February, will bypass London and transfer to New York in April; and that Lestat, Elton John and Bernie Taupin's first musical, based the Anne Rice vampire character, has found a Broadway home at the Palace Theatre, and will open on 13th April. The Rumour Machine grinds on.