Allen and Shearsmith Join Cast of Lyric Hammersmith's Comedians; Casting Complete

News   Allen and Shearsmith Join Cast of Lyric Hammersmith's Comedians; Casting Complete
 
Keith Allen and Reece Shearsmith will join the previously announced Matthew Kelly, Mark Benton and David Dawson in the Lyric Hammersmith's new production of Trevor Griffiths' Comedians, which begins performances Oct. 7, prior to an official opening Oct. 14, for a run through Nov. 14.

Also in the company are Billy Carter, Michael Dylan, Kulvinder Ghir, Simon Kunz and Paul Rider.

The theatre's new artistic director Sean Holmes directs, in his debut production at the helm. In a press statement he said, "Comedians has always been my favourite play. It's a pleasure and delight that the first show I will direct as Artistic Director of the Lyric Hammersmith will be this classic and important play with a dream cast."

Set in 1970s Manchester, Comedians follows a group of six men attending an evening class for aspiring stand-up comics led by one-time comedian Eddie Waters (Kelly). But as their chance for stardom grows ever closer, tensions begin to run high threatening to reveal home-truths that aren't so funny after all. The production is designed by Anthony Lamble, with lighting by Simon Bennison and sound by Nick Manning.

Keith Allen, who plays Bert Challoner, is best known for his role as the Sheriff of Nottingham in the BBC's hugely popular "Robin Hood" series. His many television credits also include "Bodies," "Ripley's Gold" and "Miss Marple," and as a presenter/director on the documentaries "Little Lord Fauntleroy," "You're Fayed," "Michael Carroll: King Of Chavs," "Keith Allen's Tourette De France" and "Keith Allen Will Burn In Hell". In 2008 he appeared in the West End stage production of Treasure Island, also directed by Sean Holmes, and has previously appeared in a double-bill of Harold Pinter's The Celebration and The Room at the Almeida, and Pinter's The Homecoming and David Hare's Murmuring Judges both at the National Theatre.

Reece Shearsmith, who plays Phil Murray, is best known for his appearances in the multi-award winning TV series "The League of Gentlemen," which he also co-wrote. The comedy troupe have also made theatrical appearances – their first theatre tour won the Perrier Award for comedy at the 1997 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and their show at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, A Local Show for Local People, won the Olivier Award for Best Entertainment in 2002. A film, "The League of Gentlemen's Apocalpse," was released in 2005. Shearsmith has also been seen on TV in BBC2's "Psychoville," and on film in Shaun of the Dead and Birthday Girl. On stage, he has been previously seen in the West End in Yasmina Reza's Art (at Wyndham's in 2002), as Jacques in As You Like It (at Wyndham's in 2005) and Leo Bloom in The Producers (at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 2006). He has also appeared in Simon Gray's The Common Pursuit at the Menier Chocolate Factory in 2008. Director Sean Holmes joined the Lyric Hammersmith as artistic director in January 2009. Recent directorial credits include Simon Stephens' Pornography at the Tricycle Theatre (following seasons at Edinburgh's Traverse Theatre and Birmingham Rep), Loot (Tricycle), Treasure Island (Theatre Royal Haymarket), The Man Who Had all The Luck (Donmar Warehouse) and The Entertainer (Old Vic).

First performed at the Nottingham Playhouse in February 1975, the original production of Comedians transferred to the National Theatre (then based at The Old Vic) and then to the West End's Wyndham's, prior to moving to Broadway in 1976, winning a Tony Award for Jonathan Pryce in the role of angry young comic Gethin Price.

Griffiths is currently represented on the London stage by his play A New World: A Life of Thomas Paine at Shakespeare's Globe. He was Oscar-nominated for his screenplay for "Reds"; TV credits include "Through The Night," "Country," "The Last Place on Earth," the award-winning film "Food for Ravens," and the political series "Bill Brand."

To book tickets, contact the box office at 0871 2211722 or visit www.lyric.co.uk.

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