There are cast changes, most noticeably the omission of film actor Johnny Lee Miller. Jane Asher, the Almeida cast’s other household name, remains, while Miller is replaced by Rory Kinnear. The show opens at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue on Sept. 23. Festen is an adaptation of the 1998 movie directed and written by Thomas Vinterberg and part of the Dogme film movement. It’s co-produced by Marla Rubin, who has said that she wants this to be the first in a series of Dogme stage adaptations.
The show depicts a Danish patriarch, Helge Klingenfelt, who is celebrating his 60th birthday with his family at a beautiful old hotel. With him are his wife Else, daughter Helene, and sons Christian and Michael. All is ready for a regular celebration, until Christian opens the lid on a family secret, and the evening spirals into a night of humor and terror (often both at the same time).
The stage adaptation is by David Eldridge, whose play Under the Blue Sky won the Time Out Live Award 2001 for Best New Play. His other plays include Serving It Up, A Week with Tony, Summer Being and Falling. Young Vic Associate Rufus Norris directs, with set designs by Ian MacNeil. Sound is by Paul Arditti and music by Orlando Gough.
The cast includes Asher, Kinnear (most recently seen in London as Laertes in Trevor Nunn’s Hamlet at the Old Vic), Luke Mably, Stephen Moore and Clare Rushbrook. Bill Kenwright co-produces with Rubin. With his co production of Brighton Rock, the new musical by John Barry and Don Black soon to open at the Almeida, Kenwright is hoping to make it two West End transfers from Islington in a row.
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